‘No Food, No Drink, No Watermelon’: Boston Museum Called Out For Making Racist Comment To Black Students

Boston, MA -  5/23/19    Follow-up to alleged racist incident targeting school tour group at Museum of Fine Arts Boston.
Photo by Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff
Topic:   24MFA

‘No Food, No Drink, No Watermelon’: Boston Museum Called Out For Making Racist Comment To Black Students

A teacher describes the horrifying way they were treated at the Boston Fine Arts Museum.

Published May 24th

It seems like everyday there’s a new headline of a racist occurrence in the United States, but it’s always a bit more tragic when it involves minors.

That’s what reportedly happened in Boston. According to Marvelyne Lamy, a teacher at Davis Leadership Academy in Dorchester, Massachusetts, she took a group of her middle school students to the Boston Fine Arts Museum on May 14 and they learned more about American racism than any artifact taught them.

According to a Facebook post by Lamy, her class of students are all either African American or Latino and were profiled and the only group of people at the museum being followed by security (there were several groups of unaccompanied white people). There was also allegedly some overt racism as described by Lamy.

“At the very beginning of the tour, one of the staff gave an overview on what to expect and told the kids no food, no drink, and no watermelon,” she wrote. “Throughout our walk through, they followed us. Many of our students grew agitated. At the end, we went through the gender bending exhibit where the security guard followed our every movement.

“It got so bad that I started gathering our students so we could leave,’ she added, in part.

Lamy’s full account is very vivid. The full story is below.

Two days after the Facebook post, the museum responded, claiming they’re investigating the incident and apologized for making the group uncomfortable.

“Marvelyne, we are so sorry about the experience your students had at the MFA. An investigation—carried out in partnership with your school—began within hours of your visit and is ongoing,” commented the Boston Fine Arts Museum’s Facebook page. “The Museum’s Leadership Team has written an open letter addressing the situation, with a formal apology to students, faculty, and parents. We are committed to doing the work it will take to ensure that all people who walk through our doors feel safe and are treated with respect.”

It isn’t clear what actions have actually been taken by the museum or if they’ve concluded their investigation. According to a comment from Monday (May 20), Marvelyne Lamy is attempting to spread awareness of the situation through letters by her students and local press.

Written by Paul Meara

Photo: Pat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

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