The three teachers face termination and potentially losing their teaching licenses for displaying the racist imagery
Three teachers at a middle school on Long Island, New York, have been suspended and placed on paid administrative leave after displaying an image of nooses in a classroom. The nooses were labeled, for whatever inexplicable reason, “back to school necklaces.”
Pending an investigation, the teachers involved have been “reassigned to home” according to the Roosevelt Union Free School District. According to NBC News, the noose images were part of a large collage that was in one of the classrooms at the middle school. On the image were the words “ha” and “#yes.”
Not surprisingly, all three teachers involved are white. The student body of the school, however, is comprised of a majority of Black and Hispanic students. It’s unfathomable how anyone could put together something like this and display it in a classroom, but especially teachers. What could they have possibly been thinking? How can educators still be this willfully ignorant and cruel in 2019?
In a statement, the Roosevelt School District says they’re aware of the “inappropriate conduct” of the three teachers. “The Board of Education was made aware of this incident on Thursday Feb. 7, 2019,” the district said. “An investigation was immediately initiated, and appropriate action taken.”
The local town supervisor, Laura Gillen, issued a statement, condemning the racist imagery as well. “The imagery that was on display in a Roosevelt Middle School classroom is undoubtedly racist and should not be tolerated in our town, or any other community,” she says. “The imagery is also deeply insensitive and troubling to anyone with mental health issues and those contemplating suicide.”
NBC News says two of the teachers have been employed by the district for two to three years, and the third has taught at the school for 20 years. The three women could be fired for “conduct unbecoming of a teacher” and potentially lose their teaching licenses. It’s not clear who made the collage or how long it was displayed in the classroom; only that three teachers are directly involved.
Alfred T. Taylor, school board president of the Roosevelt Union Free School District, says the incident is dividing the local community. Apparently, some people in Long Island are somehow unaware of the historical, racist significance of a noose.
“When you have half the community saying, ‘This is an atrocity,’ and then you have another half defending it saying, ‘Oh, it was supposed to be a joke,’ that’s an easy way for something to get lost in translation,” Taylor tells NBC News.
“You have a generation of youth that is so desensitized to it that they don’t understand the graphic nature of it even in seeing pictures. It doesn’t move some of them,” he continues. “That could be disturbing because it’s creating a communication gap between our communities.”
According to the NAACP, lynchings were a “popular way of resolving some of the anger that whites had in relation to the free blacks.” From 1882-1968, 4,743 lynchings occurred in the United States. Of these people that were lynched 3,446 were black. The blacks lynched accounted for 72.7% of the people lynched.
And these are just the lynchings we know about. Gillen says there’s no excuse or defense for displaying these images — whether they were meant to be a “joke” (which is literally the worst defense of this kind of racist garbage) or not.
“Teachers should be held to a higher standard because the leaders of tomorrow learn from the teachers of today,” Gillen concludes her statement. “A clear message needs to be sent that there is simply no place in our schools and in our society for this type of racist, hateful, and insensitive imagery.”