OUSD apologizes to Arab American, Jewish communities

The Oakland Unified School District apologized to both the Arab-American and Jewish communities this week, after a letter they sent upset both groups. 

The district communications team said they sent out a message last Wednesday with the "best of intentions" to celebrate the month of Ramadan. In doing so, the message highlighted "Middle Eastern North African (MENA) Heritage Month."

The Arab American community was upset with the title of MENA Heritage Month and reminded the district that April is actually Arab American Heritage Month, the apology email said. 

Meanwhile, the Jewish community was upset that a map of the Middle East in an attached slide presentation did not include Israel.

"In both cases, we made mistakes, and we apologize," the apology said. 

Moving forward, the district communications team said they will be consulting a "wider, more diverse group when assembling any message like this, regarding any and all racial, ethnic, or religious groups and historical divisions, to ensure that we give the most accurate representation of the people, regions and cultures we are discussing."

In October 2020, Oakland Unified apologized for using a "historically racist term for people of Asian descent," which somehow found its way into a survey question about demographics. The district never said what the word was. 

At the time, spokesman John Sasaki said as soon as the district became aware of it, officials removed the term and replaced it with "appropriate language."