Angry parents and students marched on Stuyvesant High School on Wednesday to protest a racist Internet video made by students of the elite New York City public school.
The video was sent via Facebook by four white students to Breanna Celestin, one of the less than 30 Black students at the prestigious school. In the video, teenage boys are seen rapping to racially infused lyrics, saying, “You ashy and Black,” and, “You Black and you so f–ing grimy.”
In a statement, Celestin’s parents said that this has been a very difficult and traumatic time for the family. “This situation heightens the importance of bringing awareness to the subject of race relations and moving the dialogue forward,” the statement read. “Society needs to know that the color of one’s skin should not dictate the treatment they receive, positively or negatively. It should be irrelevant. We hope for justice to be served and for these boys, the school community and the country to recognize that racism does still exist in our schools, and we need educational reform to confront it.”
The humiliating video was later exposed to the world on YouTube by Celestin’s friend, Alexis Marie Wint, a former student who says that she, too, was a victim of racism while attending Stuyvesant.
In a press statement, the Freedom Party has alleged that this was not the first incident of racism against minority students at the school, and that the principal had made “no comment” when presented with the video evidence.
According to Stuyvesant students the boys seen in the video have been suspended. However, protesters are demanding that the students responsible for making the video be expelled and criminally charged for their prank. They are also calling in addition to the ouster of the principal.
In a statement, Wint said that she leaked the video in order to draw attention to the issues of racism and cyber-bullying taking place at the high school, an institution where, she claimed, “overt and latent acts of discrimination and racism have gone unchecked by the administration.”
One student at the elite school said that, though the video is offensive, the piece was merely a result of an inside joke between Celestin and the video culprits and that it has been blown out of proportion. “It wasn’t meant to be racist…It wasn’t intended hatefully,” said a 14-year-old freshman at the school.
Likewise, John Thompson, a junior at Stuyvesant, said he has never felt that race relations at the school were an issue, and that all the negative media attention was making the school “look horrible and…like we’re racist.”
Stuyvesant is one of four specialized high schools in New York City where students are admitted based on the results of one test. It is located in Lower Manhattan and generally receives more resources than other public high schools in the city.
The lack of diversity at the school has certainly set up a climate where an open racial dialogue would be difficult. Last year only 19 Blacks were admitted to Stuyvesant, and 12 were admitted this year, according to a Feb. 17 AmNews article.
The Department of Education has not yet come up with a way to increase the Black and Latino student population in the school, which is less than 2 percent Black and 3 percent Latino, despite the fact that more than 70 percent of New York City public school students are Black or Latino.
At press time the Department of Education had been contacted but had not returned a call about the incident.