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(Video Credit: The News & Observer)
Parents at J.S. Waters School near Raleigh, North Carolina voiced outrage over a mock slave auction that was held at the school where a black student was allegedly auctioned off for $350 while students reprehensibly sang the N-word in front of staff and faculty.
The auction was recorded on video according to the organization, Chatham Organizing For Racial Equity. It was first publicized by the mother of one of the students involved, Ashley Palmer, when she posted it to Facebook on March 4 after her son Jeremiah told her about the incident, according to the Daily Mail.
“HUG YOUR BABIES! You never know what they may be going through,” she wrote on social media. “To say we have had a rough week is an understatement. Our son experienced a slave auction by his classmates and when he opened up we were made aware that this type of stuff seems to be the norm so much that he didn’t think it was worth sharing.”
“His friend ‘went for $350’ and another student was the Slavemaster because he ‘knew how to handle them.’ We even have a video of students harmonizing the N word. Since when were children so blatantly racist? Why is this culture acceptable?” Palmer asked.
“Students received 1 day suspension for the ‘slave auction.’ No action taken yet pertaining to the video. Today at recess the ‘slavemaster’ ‘accidentally’ hit my son with a baseball 4 times upon his return to school,” the mother wrote on Facebook.
“Now he has decided to retaliate by making up things that Jeremiah didn’t say to attempt to get him into trouble. No further action from the school at this point,” she reported.
Chatham County Schools’ official Facebook page announced that the school was investigating the incident, noting, “They are taking this very seriously and have taken steps to ensure this won’t happen again.”
Local groups and parents demanded an apology and got one from the school’s superintendent. They also want one from the instigators of the auction.
“These students were emboldened to not only commit brazen and overt acts of racism but to retaliate further and continue their aggression after serving a perfunctory one-day suspension,” a coalition of parents said.
A North Carolina mom says Black children at her son's school were forced into a "slave auction" by classmates, and the "slavemaster" hit him with a baseball bat.
She says Chatham schools suspended some students involved, but not any she says were filmed "harmonizing the n-word." pic.twitter.com/jFtmqMpl1K
— AJ+ (@ajplus) March 11, 2022
They are also demanding harsher punishment for school employees who engage in racist behavior including being fired for it.
“I want to offer an apology… to every single student who has ever felt unsafe while in our care, to every student who has ever felt demeaned, disrespected or marginalized because of their race, ethnicity, sex, gender, religion or disability,” Chatham County Schools Superintendent Anthony Jackson told the furious parents.
“Actions such as these, they just do not reflect who we are as a school system. And I say, unapologetically, will not be tolerated in the school system,” he added.
“Those who participate in acts that demean any person are acting outside the values of our school system and will be held accountable using every means at our disposal. As painful as it has been to hear some of these accounts, I want to thank those who exercised the courage to step forward and speak their truth. It is now our responsibility to do the things all students need to be the true beneficiaries of the many wonderful programs and opportunities we have to offer in our school system,” Jackson stated.
“In Chatham County schools, we proudly boast that diversity is our strength, and moving forward it will be our intentional focus to ensure that this celebration includes everyone,” he noted.
“The acts committed towards our son and other classmates were extremely disturbing, however, not surprising since this isn’t the first time our family has had to deal with racist acts towards one of our children,” Palmer said before a meeting outside Pittsboro Presbyterian Church in Pittsboro, Chatham County according to The News & Observer.
“This is not diversity and inclusion. This is not equity. This is racism and deserves to be treated as such. …Racist acts shouldn’t be disciplined on the same level as someone pulling another student’s hair with a one-day suspension. It should have its own designation reportable at the county level and handled with the significant consequences it deserves,” she railed.
“Over the past week, I have experienced every possible emotion there is over the events of nearly two weeks ago,” Christy Wagner, whose son was reportedly auctioned off for $350, said. “Some days I feel guilty and questioned if I’m doing a good job raising my son. I never thought in a million years I’d be standing up here talking about my son experiencing racism in middle school.”
(Video Credit: The News & Observer)
“The reality is these acts of racism are not only happening here in Chatham County but across North Carolina and across the country,” she noted. “More should be done around addressing racism in schools because no parent should have to stand here after hearing their son was sold in a slave trade at school.”
“I asked my son why didn’t he tell me? He responded with, ‘Mom it wasn’t a big deal,'” Wagner recounted. “I am a mother who just had to explain to my son why being auctioned as a slave is unacceptable. This moment in my son’s early life has already made him question playing the sport he loves with his friends, and I pray this does not impact him mentally and socially going forward.”
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