SELANOCO JACL Chapter Co-President Nicole Inouye and Brian Hosokawa, president of the Portola High School girls basketball boosters.

MISSION VIEJO – During a Feb. 10 meeting of the Saddleback Valley Unified School District Board of Education, a statement signed by Co-Presidents Nicole Inouye and Jamie Morishima of the South East Los Angeles-North Orange County (SELANOCO) Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) was presented, requesting that the board conduct a thorough investigation of an ugly racist incident that had occurred during a basketball game at Laguna Hills High School.

The Jan. 21 incident involved students of LHHS who shouted racial slurs at a Black student-athlete from the visiting team, Portola High School in Irvine.

Video taken during the game captured shouts of “Where is his slave owner?” “Who let him out of his chains?” and “Chain him up” directed at Portola senior Makai Brown.

During the presentation of the statement, Inouye said that JACL supported the victim’s family and hoped this incident would become a starting point whereby all of the members of the Saddleback Valley USD community can come together, united in their resolve, to create a safer and more inclusive community where everyone is treated equally and with respect.

Another speaker, Brian Hosokawa, president of the PHS girls basketball boosters, posted footage of the incident on YouTube, stating that he wanted to focus on the failures of leadership that led up to this incident.

Hosokawa explained that this incident was a cultural problem and asked a challenging question: “Are you going to make yourselves uncomfortable and do the difficult work to change it and teach your students a better way?”

These members of the Japanese American community have resolved to continue to monitor the progress of the investigation by the school board.

After Brown’s mother shared the video on Jan. 25, the post has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times, and caught the attention of media outlets CNN, The Los Angeles Times and KTLA, and was reposted by prominent figures including activist Shaun King and actress Taraji P. Henson.

Laguna Hills High administrators requested that Hosokawa remove the video, according to The L.A. Times, indicating the spread of the footage would only will only complicate matters for the investigation and any subsequent disciplinary action.

“Unless we have tough and uncomfortable conversations about incidents such as these, things will never change,” Hosokawa has said. “So I declined their multiple requests to remove the video. I would love to see more accountability for the administrators involved [at Laguna Hills High].”

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