A Connecticut middle school made national headlines recently when one of its students allegedly spat on a Black visitor to the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C. Now, the school’s principal says the incident did not involve racism.
“The incident at the African American Museum involved a student spitting over a balcony,” Dina Marks, principal of Shelton Intermediate School, said via Twitter. “It allegedly hit a visitor, a person of color. It was an act of stupidity, disinterest, & immaturity, completely inappropriate, but I believe, not racially motivated against that person.”
Greg Johnson, the president of Ansonia Valley NAACP, disagrees and claims the location is all the proof that the incident wasn’t simply adolescence.
“He didn’t spit on anyone at the Washington Monument or the Lincoln Memorial,” he said in an interview with the Hartford Courant on Saturday. “A total and complete lack of respect and one of the most degrading acts one can commit against another.”
“It’s an embarrassment not only to Shelton, but to Connecticut,” he continued. “Far too often unkind acts in our world are excused because it was ‘only a joke.’ The individual who was spit on may not see it as a joke. I suspect it may have been more rude than racist. Not certain how the visitor to the museum on the receiving end of the act would perceive it.
“Shelton is not especially racist or biased as a community. Nor is it free of such sentiments,” he concluded.
The entire group of 100 students and around 12 chaperones were reportedly kicked out and the student was sent home, according to Superintendent Christopher Clouet.
Johnson also points out that this is the third incident of its kind in just a few weeks involving a student from the school. Last month, the Shelton school district investigated a Snapchat image showing a girl in blackface making obscene hand gestures captioned with a racial slur.
Another student in a separate incident reportedly used the N-word on social media and was not disciplined, according to Johnson. “There’s no accountability,” he said, according to the Hartford Courant. “It’s why kids run amok. There’s deeply embedded racism in town.”
Superintendent Clouet said Shelton schools will reach out to students about the recent incidents and use them as a teachable moment. “We will teach students about our complex national history,” he said. “And we will teach students to recognize the core values of empathy, kindness and respect.”
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