Principal Donna Tripi of La Jolla Elementary School in San Diego recently apologized for an email that she sent to parents suggesting racial stereotypes against Black males. As an apology to her racially-charged email, she sent another email saying it was unintentional. But civil rights activists are not buying it, and have defined it as a “disturbing” apology.
Last month, Tripi warned parents about a suspicious man who allegedly stared at and followed a girl to a local Starbucks. In the email she sent, she described the man as “an African American male about 30-years old, about 6’1″ to 6’2″, dressed in all black and a hooded sweatshirt.”
Tripi’s email also included tips on how parents could keep their children safe and that they should call the police “if you see something that doesn’t feel right.”
“We’re all hoping it was an isolated incident,” the email concluded, “but reminders are always helpful.”
Last week, Tripi sent out another email expressing her apology for the vague description of the man that wasn’t at all helpful in identifying the man. But still, Tripi further added details that aligned with stereotypes against Black people.
“My email was a mistake. While it is critical to keep our school family safe, the way I communicated didn’t provide enough specifics to identify the individual, but could easily lead to unnecessary and harmful reactions against other members of our community. African American males continue to face discrimination in our society every day. The thought that I unintentionally contributed to that climate with a vague email is something for which I owe our community an apology.”
Moreover, Tripi defended the parent’s fears against the black man, noting that she’s “confident the concern they described was not imagined” and continued justifying the parent’s belief that the man was suspicious even though he hadn’t done anything to hurt them.
“This apology is as disturbing as the original email,” André Branch, president of the San Diego Branch of the NAACP, told The San Diego Union-Tribune. “She repeats the description of the man, mentioning his race, but not that of the parents or the children. This repetition reinforces the idea that the parents and their children have something to fear from African-American men.”
Tripi has yet to comment to the media on the issue.