Middle school teachers in Long Island, NY create furor after displaying photo collage with racist undertones
Collage included a photo of two nooses labeled “back to school necklaces”
Insensitivity at the Roosevelt Middle School in Long Island, NY with its mostly minority student population, left parents in outrage
Many found the photo, embedded in a collage, to be highly offensive, and a local pastor is calling for the teachers involved to be fired
45 percent, of Roosevelt Middle School’s students are Black and 55 percent are Hispanic or Latino
Many found this photo, of a pair of hangman’s nooses embedded in a collage, to be highly offensive. Some have called for the teachers involved to be fired. The photo displayed inside a classroom shows two nooses labeled “back to school necklaces” at Roosevelt Middle School in NY on Feb. 7, 2019
The Long Island school district issued a confirmation of notice about disturbing photograph displayed inside a classroom showing two nooses labeled “back to school necklaces” at Roosevelt Middle School in New York on Feb. 7, 2019
Many found the photo, embedded in a collage, to be highly offensive, and a local pastor is calling for the teachers involved to be fired.
“I was very upset about it. I mean, if they feel that way then they’re in the wrong school district,” said Yvette Hudson of Roosevelt, to News12 Long Island. She also expressed relief that her kids were grown and no longer attending the school.
The school has a mostly minority student population. About 45 percent, of Roosevelt Middle School’s students are black or African-American, and 55 percent are Hispanic or Latino as of the 2017-2018 school year, noted the office of the Hempstead Town Supervisor in a statement issued late Sunday.
“That may not be what they’re trying to say,” Savitri Lekhram of Hempstead told News12. “It’s probably just a joke, it probably has nothing to do with African-Americans or anything. But at the same time they can still draw that connection.”
“This imagery that was on display in a Roosevelt Middle School classroom is undoubtedly racist and should not be tolerated in our Town, or any other community” – Hempstead Town Supervisor Laura Gillen
Parents at the mostly minority student population Roosevelt Middle School on Long Island, NY, have been outraged at the insensitive nature of the photo
The Roosevelt School district issued a brief, terse statement calling it a “personnel matter” and saying they could not comment further.
“The Roosevelt School District is aware of the inappropriate conduct at the Roosevelt Middle School,” the district said in a statement that greets anyone going to the district’s homepage. “The Board of Education was made aware of this incident on Thursday, February 7, 2019, an investigation was immediately initiated, and appropriate action taken. The Board of Education has zero tolerance for the display of racially offensive images.”
Statement from website of Roosevelt Union Free School District, NY confirm notice of inappropriate behavior at Roosevelt Middle School on Long Island
That wasn’t enough for Arthur Mackey Jr., pastor at Mount Sinai Baptist Church Cathedral in Roosevelt, who said a friend who works at the school had shared the picture with him.
“Once that was brought to my attention and I saw the picture, we knew that we had to stand up and inform the public,” Mackey told NBC News on Sunday. “All we’re asking is after a thorough investigation, that whoever is involved in this racist image be fired.”
Hempstead Town Supervisor echoed this call, in a statement issued late Sunday.
“This imagery that was on display in a Roosevelt Middle School classroom is undoubtedly racist and should not be tolerated in our Town, or any other community,” said Hempstead Town Supervisor Laura Gillen in the statement, which also noted inclusion of the hash tag “YES” and the words “Ha-Ha.” “The imagery is also deeply insensitive and troubling to anyone with mental health issues and those contemplating suicide.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) logs suicide as the second leading cause of death among middle-school-aged children between 10 and 14 years old, Gillen’s statement noted.
“Teachers should be held to a higher standard because the leaders of tomorrow learn from the teachers of today,” said Gillen. “A clear message needs to be sent that there is simply no place in our schools and in our society for this type of racist, hateful and insensitive imagery.”