Students at Newberg High School in Oregon allegedly engaged in a virtual “slave trade” in which they posted images of their Black classmates in a social network group chat and discussed how much they would pay for them, simulating a slave auction.
Tami Erion, the school’s administrator, said in a statement to KGW News that kids involved in the so-called “slave trade” group chat on Snapchat used racist and homophobic comments.
On the same day that the Newberg school board was set to review its decision to prohibit Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ Pride symbols on campus, parents learned about the group chat. According to the school board, such emblems are politically divisive.
Erion told the news organization that they learned of the incident on Friday, despite the fact that the group discussion in question “began” in Michigan late last year. She also wrote a letter to the school community on Tuesday about the event.
Participants in the discussions were reportedly seen sharing images of their Black classmates and discussing their worth as well as their personal lives, according to screenshots of the chats. “All Blacks should die,” “Let’s have another Holocaust,” and “They prefer picking cotton” were among the comments expressed throughout the chat.
Heidi Pender, a parent of a student, said, “My heart is so hurt for these kids who have gotten the message that they are not even viewed as human by some of their fellow pupils.” “Imagining your own child being treated as if they were subhuman slaves to be sold by other students made me feel sick to my stomach.”
The act was also criticized by Erion, who said the school was “very disturbed” by such “conduct.” Erion continued, “As a community, we continue to wrestle with issues of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging.”
“By forbidding harassment based on gender, sexual orientation, color, ethnicity, religion, or disability, Newberg High School strives to provide a secure learning environment for all students.”
Despite Erion’s promises, some parents told KGW News that their children are concerned about their safety at school, especially because Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ Pride posters have been banned on campus. Initially, parents of Black kids believed that putting Black Lives Matter posters on campus would give a safe haven for pupils who have been subjected to racism.
“It’s perplexing to my Black kid why people would be against stating her life matters,” Pender said. “Those words simply mean that black lives matter. It’s really perplexing and distressing for her to have officials in control of her school system tell her that teachers are not permitted to tell her that her life matters.”
According to OPB, the school board had a meeting on Tuesday to debate the restriction. They did not, however, rescind the conclusion they had authorized in August.
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