The packed gymnasium erupted on a Tuesday night with applause as the Oakland High School varsity boys basketball team ran in, their usual blue and white Wildcat jerseys were replaced by cerulean T-shirts with the message “NO H8” printed on the front, and a single name printed on the back, “Sasha.”
That name refers to Sasha Fleischman, a high school senior at nearby Maybeck High School in Berkeley, CA, who was badly burned after being set on fire while sleeping on a city bus. Sasha, who identifies as agender, was wearing a skirt at the time of the attack, leading police to investigate the incident as a hate crime. A student from Oakland High School has been apprehended and charged with assault with a hate crime enhancement.
While the majority of Oakland High students had never heard of Sasha before this event, the alleged offender is one of their classmates. The “No H8” basketball game was created by the students to honor Sasha and remind the local community that Oakland High is a school where diversity is celebrated and students stand up to injustice. The players, coaches, fans, and even the opposing team wore "NO H8" T-shirts and pins exclaiming their acceptance of all students. Around the gym, posters created by students contained messages such as, “Not In Our School” and “Stand Up To Hate.”