Pennsylvania Capitol Building in Harrisburg, Pa. (Photo by Amanda Berg for the Capital-Star).
By Alec Larson
PHILADELPHIA — As students at St. Hubert Catholic High School for Girls returned to class following the controversy that arose last week when a racist video involving students at the school came to light, the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus has released a statement decrying the incident.
The students involved have since been expelled, according to NBC10 in Philadelphia.
“The rise in racist rhetoric among our young people is not new, but these disturbing posts are symptomatic of the current state of affairs across the commonwealth and the country. Our students are mirroring the political vitriol and uncivil discourse displayed by adults at school board meetings, in the workplace, on social media, and in their homes,” the caucus’ statement read.
“Recent social media posts from students at a Philadelphia Catholic high school, a suburban middle school, and a western Pennsylvania state university are racist, hateful, and wrong. They provide further evidence of the need for bias training and inclusive curriculum in our educational system, such as teaching African American history — not just highlighting it in February during Black History Month but throughout the school year.”
The video in question appeared on social media on Tuesday and shows several white teen girls laughing as they spray-paint another white teen’s face with a dark color and shout “Know your roots” and “You’re nothing but a slave” amongst other racially insensitive remarks.
Following the video’s circulation on social media, St. Hubert shifted to virtual learning last week after the school’s administrators reported there had been unspecified threats made in reaction to the controversy.
Students protested at the school late last week, reportedly calling for the Archdiocese to take further action to address issues related to racism at the school.
The leader of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Archbishop Nelson J. Pérez, released a personal statement following the circulation of the video, expressing his disapproval and adding that “the recent actions of a few have ripped open deep wounds in your school and our community-at-large” as a result of the video.
“I have seen the deep pain and suffering within the Saint Hubert’s community over the past few days with a heavy heart. I share in your shock and deep disappointment that students from your school would not only engage in racist behavior, but also share it broadly on social media,” Pérez said.
“As I’ve said before many times, racism is a mortal sin and an attack on the integrity of God’s most precious gift, that of human life. Racism is a vile evil. It has no place in our hearts, our lives, our Church, or our schools. Those responsible will face severe disciplinary consequences.”
Following an investigation into the incident, St. Hubert released a statement over the weekend updating parents and students on the situation and revealing that the two students involved in the video have been expelled from the school.
“We recognize the variety of emotions and reactions flowing through our community. We have heard, seen, and understand the very real anger, shock, disappointment, and fear you are experiencing for a variety of reasons,” said the school’s president, Lizanne Pando.
“The severity of the situation at hand demanded and the repugnant nature of the behavior on the part of some of our students demanded that we swiftly conduct a thorough investigation that examined all possible facts. That process has concluded. As a result, the young women who responsible for this situation have been identified and they are no longer members of this school community.”
Alec Larson is a reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this story first appeared.
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