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Fresno Trustee Says Bullard Football Coach Used Racial Slur to Her Son



Fresno Unified students protest at district headquarters on Friday, May 6, 2022, over alleged racist social media posts originating at Bullard High School on Wednesday May 4, 2022. (GV Wire/Nancy Price)
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Fresno Unified Trustee Keshia Thomas on Tuesday evening accused Bullard High football Coach Donnie Arax of using a racial slur to her son when he was a Bullard student.

Thomas brought up the allegation on “Unfiltered,” a public affairs show Livestreamed on Facebook and hosted by GV Wire publisher Darius Assemi that on Tuesday was focused on the issue of racism in Fresno Unified and a recent social media post that pictured a Bullard High student wearing a head covering that resembled a Ku Klux Klan hood.

The posting sparked outrage and student walkouts and a march organized by Black Student Union organizations at Bullard and Edison high schools.

Thomas’ comment about Arax came when she was talking about the long history of racism at Bullard, the northwest Fresno high school that she attended three decades ago. Her middle son, now 23, experienced racism firsthand as a Bullard student, she said.

“My son, my middle son, he goes to football practice where he has Arax calling him a (N-word), and he decides he’s not playing for Bullard anymore,” she said.

When contacted by GV Wire for comment, Arax provided the following statement:

“I’ve coached hundreds of black athletes across the course of my career. I’ve had scores of black coaches right there alongside me. I am confident that if you talked to any one of them, they will tell you that the N-word is not a word I utter. In fact, quite the opposite. I have lectured my players — black, white and Latino — countless times that the word is not to be even whispered in my presence. This is a value consistent with how I and my brother and sister were raised. Our family was subject to the same racist real estate codes that banned blacks, Armenians, Asians and Mexicans from living in many parts of Fresno for more than a half century. My father was the first businessman in Fresno to open an integrated nightclub. This is who we are. For someone to say otherwise is a slander I will not take lightly.”

District spokeswoman Nikki Henry said the district would have no comment on Thomas’ allegation. “We cannot comment on personnel matters due to privacy,” she said.

Complaint Made About Bullard Employee

Superintendent Bob Nelson confirmed to GV Wire last week that an anonymous student poster at the student walkout/rally at Bullard High alleged that a Bullard employee had used the N-word to a student. Nelson said the district was following up on the allegation.

On May 9 Thomas held a news conference at Edison High with members of the school’s Black Student Union who called for immediate discipline of students who participated in the social media post and any staffers who were supposed to be supervising them in the Bullard High weight room.

She accused the district of covering up and ignoring past instances of racist behavior and called for the creation by FUSD of a special commission to investigate the district’s history of investigating such incidents and making recommendations to the School Board.

Nancy Price is a multimedia journalist for GV Wire. A longtime reporter and editor who has worked for newspapers in California, Florida, Alaska, Illinois and Kansas, Nancy joined GV Wire in July 2019. She previously worked as an assistant metro editor for 13 years at The Fresno Bee. Nancy earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. Her hobbies include singing with the Fresno Master Chorale and volunteering with Fresno Filmworks. You can reach Nancy at 559-492-4087 or Send an Email