A Northern California high school decided last week to put an end to its annual senior fundraising auction, which allowed students to purchase classmates to perform mundane tasks for them around the school.
John F. Kennedy High School in Sacramento, which has held the auction every year for more than a decade, decided to discontinue the traditional senior fundraiser after an African-American senior student said the event recalled slavery, the Sacramento Bee reported.
“Auctioning off a human is all around wrong. Sacramento is one of the top city's for human trafficking, and by doing this you're encouraging and supporting putting a price on a human being,” Lamari Johnson, 17, a senior at the school, wrote in an online petition about the auction that was held Feb. 9-10.
“We are not property or objects. Putting a price to someone's worth is wrong. Students should be taught to have respect and value," the petition reads. Another reason Johnson felt strongly about dismantling the senior auction was that it fell in February, which is Black History Month.
“My ancestors fought for freedom, fought to not be enslaved, sold and separated from their family. Not only that, people are making jokes saying, ‘Oh, hey look. I just bought two slaves’ which is not OK,” Johnson wrote.
The auction raised money for the school's senior ball. Students would pay for a senior to carry a backpack, read a poem out loud on demand and other chores.
Principal David Van Natten announced this year would be the last such auction, mainly because of the concerns and disapproval voiced by others.
However, Johnson said she realized the importance of taking a stand, but she had been the target of slander by students who supported the auction.
“I understand some people don’t get it. But it’s also been kind of hard for me," she said. Johnson noted she “didn’t want to make it just a racial issue.”
Overall, the high school senior said regardless of the attacks it doesn't take away how imperative it is to stand up for what you believe in, "even when people are against you because there are so many other people who fought for something."
"If people didn’t fight for gay rights, if they didn’t fight for civil rights, we wouldn’t be where we are today," she said.
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