@Dearmayfield Reveals History of Unchecked Racism



An Instagram post highlighting a personal testomony submitted to the @Dearmayfield Instagram on July 8.

PASADENA, California — Weeks after the Black Lives Matter protests over the death of George Floyd on May 25 in Minneapolis, a series of Instagram accounts created by high school students at elite preparatory schools in the Los Angeles area are illuminating allegations of systemic racism at institutions that pride themselves in championing diversity, equity and inclusion. 

Students and alumni created the Instagram pages to provide a platform for Black, Indigenous and People Of Color (“BIPOC”) to share experiences and observations they had while attending L.A. private schools. The testimonies were sent via Instagram direct messages or google forms to the account owners, who then posted them without including author names. The Instagram accounts are filled with stories alleging racism and discrimination against members of the BIPOC community at the schools. Many students and alumni assert that these incidents were reported to school officials, who they say subsequently refused to take appropriate action. As summer wore on, the accounts were shared across Instagram stories and group chats, amassing hundreds, sometimes thousands, of followers prompting varied responses and actions. 

Mayfield Senior School was not exempt from allegations of systemic racism.  

On June 28, @dearmayfield emerged.

“It’s great that you acknowledge that half of your student population or POC. But you’ve never done anything to support us or acknowledge us besides your mediocre statistics. In fact, you did nothing when there were repeated complaints about racist remarks made by students AND teachers. What happens to ‘Actions not Words’ when disgusting remarks are made but no action is taken by the institution?” a post read on @dearmayfield, an Instagram account directed at Mayfield Senior School.

Rising junior Audrey Leung created @dearmayfield to provide a supportive platform for Mayfield Senior BIPOC students like herself and to share their testimonies.

“I wanted to start this account because I wanted a safe space for myself and other BIPOC to have a way for our voices to be heard. This is a collective effort with many of my Mayfield sisters to bring awareness to a topic so silenced at Mayfield,” said Leung, who solicited the testimonies with a google form as well as direct messages on Instagram. The posts reveal instances of racism that go back decades at Mayfield Senior School.

“After starting this account, so many other Mayfield students and alums have spoken on other racial injustices which had really made this whole thing so rewarding for me. I feel supported by the many other BIPOCs at Mayfield despite not knowing who they are and them not knowing who I am,” said Leung.

Mayfield Senior School’s website says on its “Justice, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” page that “as Catholics we cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form. Mayfield Senior School community members embrace their responsibility to work as anti-racists for positive social change through ‘Actions Not Words.’”

Current students and alumni of MSS seeking to hold classmates, teachers, coaches, and other administrators accountable for racist behavior, want MSS to live up to its motto. While recognizing that systemic racism in an institution cannot be erased overnight, Head of School, Kate Morin who joined the Mayfield community in 2015, says she takes the allegations and the call to action seriously. 

“We want to make sure that Mayfield gives girls the opportunity to work on these issues so that Mayfield is nurturing, respectful, loving, and uplifting for every single kid,” Morin said.   

Postings on the @dearmayfield Instagram account, including several incidents that occurred before Morin’s arrival in 2015, tell a very different story. Among the posts are allegations of casual and repeated use of the N-word inside and outside of the classroom, teachers and administrators confusing BIPOC with one another, students wearing Blackface for spirit day and Halloween without repercussions, use of BlPOC for school admissions events and publicity purposes, coaches recruiting students for sports teams because of their skin color, and numerous instances of teachers making racist comments in the classroom without consequences. Moreover, the posts allege that Mayfield Senior has failed to properly educate its community about racism and discrimination.

Mayfield Senior’s diversity demographics for last year reports that, Persons of Color make up 63% of the student body and slightly higher than 30% of the faculty and staff. According to Morin, if non-teaching administrators and staff were included in the percentages, they would be even higher. However, a close analysis of the data reveals that only 0.3% of the student body is Black. 

The following posts appeared on the @dearmayfield account. The identity of the writers could not be verified. 



The posts above reveal the urgent need for Mayfield to increase the number of Black students and Black teachers/faculty within the school. 

The following post appeared on the @dearmayfield account. The identity of the writer could not be verified.


An alum from the class of 2012, who wishes to remain anonymous, remembered the spirit day stated in the post above. 

“So one of the most notable (forms of racism or discrimination) was (during) spirit week, it was either my freshman or sophomore year. I believe the theme for that day was “celebrities.” It came to my attention and a lot of other girls very quickly that a few white seniors had decided to dress up as Lil Wayne/other Black rappers. What was disturbing about it was that they came to school with their faces painted brown—which most of us are educated/smart enough to know is Blackface,”  wrote the alum who wishes to stay anonymous. 

Despite writing letters protesting the incident, said the alum, “those running the school did nothing. The seniors were not reprimanded, they were not told to change/go home, nor were they told why it was blatantly wrong.”

The numerous offending instances recounted in the over 100 posts suggests racist behavior is overlooked even when reported to teachers or administrators at Mayfield Senior. When asked for a comment regarding the Blackface incident that was recounted in the Instagram account, Morin explained this incident occurred before she joined the Mayfield community but she was heartbroken and shocked when she heard about this experience. Morin says she wants to implement change and is eager to hear from current students and alumni.

The following posts appeared on the @dearmayfield account. The identities of the writers could not be verified.



The posts above are not unique to the various allegations on @dearmayfield surrounding the assemblies that attempt to highlight the BIPOC community at Mayfield. 

Nia Bowdoin, a Black student from the class of 2020 remembers Mayfield having very few assemblies spotlighting the BIPOC community. When asked what Mayfield should do in the future to support the Black community, Nia Bowdoin suggested two key ideas.

“I believe that having at least one assembly a year if not more, run by the POC community, teaches the student body about all of the POC cultures. I also think Mayfield would benefit from a Black student union club,” she said.

“From my experiences Mayfield is committed to enacting surface level change when it comes to acceptance of minority students,”  said a Black alum from the class of 2020 who wished to remain anonymous. “They do enough to make it seem like they’re committed to it, however it’s always up to the BIPOC students to go above and beyond,” she said.

Sarah Bruier Boland (Ms. BB) Mayfield’s Co-Head of Diversity Equity and Inclusion wrote in an email that for each of the last three years there has been one Diversity assembly per year planned and presented by the students who attend the Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC).

“The purpose of these assemblies is to better understand ourselves, our community members and those who live on the margins, so that we live Holy Child School goals 4 and 5 to work for Christian principles of justice, peace and compassion and create a learning climate based on trust and reverence for the dignity and uniqueness of each person,” wrote Bruier Boland.

Bruier Boland hopes that in the future Mayfield will have more assemblies that highlight the Justice, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion issues that students care most about.

Some who have been a part of the diversity council would like to have more freedom in the presentations.

“As being part of the diversity council, I remembered that we had to be very ‘careful’ and cautious of what we had to say during the assembly and that felt as though they were putting boundaries on what racism is,” wrote a BIPOC member of the class of 2022 who asked to remain anonymous.  

In recent years since Morin’s arrival, Mayfield has taken steps to try and provide a more supportive environment for the BIPOC community. Mayfield has sent various students, faculty and staff to nationally-recognized summits such as the NAIS’s People of Color Conference (POCC) and Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC) to address diversity, equity, and inclusion in education.  

The Mayfield JDEI page also states that students attend smaller local meet-ups such as the Words Matter Youth Summit at Loyola High School. Mayfield faculty have participated in leadership training through SEED (Seeking Educational Equity & Diversity), an organization founded in 1987 by Peggy McIntosh, author of “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.”

Despite Mayfield’s efforts to address diversity, equity, and inclusion, current students report ongoing racist conduct.

The following post appeared on the @dearmayfield account. The identity of the writer could not be verified. 


Sadé Falese ’23 who is half African and half Indonesian had a similar experience. She struggled to decide if she should remain friends or end the friendship with her best friend who repeatedly used the N-word. 

“One of my closest friends used to sing songs with the n-word continuously in front of me. I always have felt uncomfortable and honestly, I was afraid to tell her to stop,” Falese said.

“Eventually, I spoke up but her response was ‘it’s just the lyrics’. This whole situation caused our 9-year friendship to end,” she said. 

That was not the only time Falese felt targeted based on her race at Mayfield. In her freshman year, the track coach expressed an interest in her joining the team. However, Falese did not think she was asked for the right reasons. 

“The track coach came up to me asking if I run track because I seem fast. I felt weird when they asked me because of the stereotype of Black people being fast. Yes, I do run track, but I wanted to quit the second I got on the team,”  Falese explained.

When asked for a response from Morin regarding incidents relating to athletics, she stated that the athletic department does not go through the same kind of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) training that the other Mayfield departments are given.  Morin said she would like to see that changed.

Morin said she plans to meet with Athletic Director Steve Bergen to find a way to educate the athletic department about racism and discrimination in a similar way that the teachers go through DEI training. 

Helena Garcia, a member of the Mayfield graduating class of 2012, shared her experience as a Latina woman at MSS. 

“I experienced an incident during my freshman year at Mayfield with the Religion teacher that was on staff at the time. We were in class and she was providing instructions for an assignment we were to complete. I didn’t understand part of the instructions, and so I raised my hand and asked for clarification. The teacher responded by asking me, in Spanish, ‘Que? No hablas ingles?’ I was furious and so deeply ashamed and embarrassed,” Garcia said. 

Garcia said she and several other students expressed their concerns regarding the teacher to the Assistant Head of School at the time. The Theology teacher apologized but no further action was taken. According to Morin, this Theology teacher no longer works at Mayfield. 

Garcia had reached out to Mayfield before @dearmayfield came about. She first contacted  the administration when Mayfield posted on its Facebook page about the murder of George Floyd. Garcia felt Mayfield’s public statement did not reflect the experiences of many BIPOC alumni at Mayfield. 

Mayfield has since sent an apology to alumni as well as a second one to current students and parents. A new Alum JDEI Advisory Board has also been formed to work with Mayfield. 

Garcia encourages students in the Mayfield community to share their feelings and to discuss the current plan of action proposed by administrators to educate the MSS community about racism.

Alumni held a meeting with current students and more recent graduates to get their feedback and ideas for change. Garcia says that the next steps include providing the feedback to the administration and the Board of Trustees.   

Cassandra Gonzales, a Latina woman who became a Co-Head of Diversity Equity and Inclusion in order to help better serve the Mayfield community is helping to develop Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion training for teachers. 

There has also been a re-evaluation of the Mayfield curriculum to broaden and address BIPOC history, literature and art. Mayfield has also been working to develop an anti-racist curriculum for Formation of Self (FOS) classes. 

“We want our English curriculum to have both windows and mirrors for everybody. I think it’s an ongoing evaluation, but we’ve been talking and working on it for the last few years,” said Morin. 

“In order for Mayfield to improve its legacy and current environment and become an anti-racist institution, it must confront, listen, learn, repair, and change. This work is not extraneous, secondary, or an “add-on” to Mayfield’s core religious identity, but is essential to it. Mayfield must live out its motto:  “Actions, not words.” I hope that all of Mayfield (faculty, administration, fellow alumnae, students, and parents) is listening”, said Jeania Ree Moore, a Black alum from the class of 2008. 

It appears that Mayfield wants the community to know that the current administration is truly listening and preparing to take meaningful action. On July 17th, 2020, Morin posted a letter on the Mayfield website titled, ‘We’re listening. We hear you.’ In the letter she went on to explain the different initiatives Mayfield is undertaking. 

“At Mayfield, inclusion is at the very heart of our mission, and we want every student to be able to bring her whole authentic self to school. History is being made around us. While this pandemic reminds us of our frailties, this social justice movement energizes our souls. This period of growth may not be simple or straightforward, and we acknowledge that change must be continuous. There has never been a better opportunity to fully live up to our motto of Actions Not Words,” wrote Morin.   

Click here to read an article written by Gracie Sandman about other @dear Instagram accounts that highlight unchecked racism within Los Angeles Elite Private Schools. The article was written and published at Newsroom By the Bay, a digital journalism program for high school students, online and on campus at Stanford University.