“You’re going to end up like Sandra Bland” and “The day you get above a 90 average I’ll grow an Afro” are just two of the countless documented examples of overt racism and discrimination experienced by black students at Brooklyn Tech.
The public high school, which is the largest high school for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in the United States, has an 8% black student population despite the overall black population in Brooklyn being closer to 32%.
Recently, black students – past and present – launched the hashtag campaign #BlackInBrooklynTech to a unite a community of marginalized students and shared experiences. The results are astonishing, and a window into the learned prejudices and discrimination that continues to persist in our public schools nationwide.
“A search of the trending #blackinbrooklyntech hashtag on Facebook will reveal some of the most utterly disgusting and offensive things that have been said to current students and alums by their peers and in some cases faculty,” the petition reads. “As a proud alum, it would be nice to have other alums and non-alums join in and send a message to the administration that this cannot be tolerated and that these claims have to be looked into.”
On Tuesday the NYC Department of Education told NBCBLK that Brooklyn Tech will provide anti-discrimination/diversity training to all staff members as part of their response to students’ concerns.
In a letter to NBCBLK, students who claim responsibility for launching the hashtag campaign expressed feeling frustration with the administration. “Faculty members are complacent in permitting racially insensitive comments in the classroom, and often make offensive comments themselves,” the letter reads. “This causes a very real and rational fear of retaliation amongst students who feel the need to speak out against these issues and so don’t.”
The students who penned the letter asked not to be identified, for fear that speaking to media would hurt their college admissions.
The timing is quite interesting, considering it was less than a year ago that Mayor DiBlasio spoke at Brooklyn Tech’s commencement about racial tolerance in the aftermath of the Charleston Massacre. As the Black Lives Matter movement evolves in 2016, it will be fascinating to watch how stories like these get embedded into its larger narrative.
Injustice.In stands in full support with the courageous young voices determined to shape to eradicate all forms of biases.