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A school in Long Island, New York, has come under scrutiny for featuring two nooses in a “back to school” collage.
The collage reportedly was spotted at Roosevelt Middle School and came to light after Pastor Arthur Mackey shared photos of the collage on Facebook this weekend. The photos show the bottom end of the collage featuring two nooses with “Ha” and “#Yes” written next to them.
It was shared with him through a teacher at the school, he told the Daily Dot, adding that several teachers who have since left the school confirmed the presence of the poster.
“I got this disturbing information on Saturday,” he told the Daily Dot. “Then, to add insult to injury, I learned that it had been hanging up for several months in one of the teacher’s classroom. That truly crossed the line.”
As he also noted in the viral Facebook post: “Dolls with nooses around the necks were also distributed to the children of color by these three teachers at Roosevelt Middle School in Nassau County, Long Island, New York.”
Mackey wasn’t able to confirm the timing of the dolls being distributed but said that he learned about them from the same person who notified him about the collage.
The Roosevelt School District is reportedly investigating the incident. They said “appropriate action” has been taken for the “inappropriate conduct” but it is not clear the specific nature of the repercussion.
Mackey is calling for the teachers to be fired. “We call on this school to fire anyone who was involved in this display of this racist images which boils down to a hate crime,” he told the Daily Dot.
Mackey, who himself attended the Roosevelt public school system, says this was a “slap on the face” of the community.
“I cannot imagine what type of excuse [there] would be used to justify such a horrendous hate-crime,” he said. “We’ll see in the upcoming days what kind of response comes up. This type of thing is not a joke.”
Whether or not the teachers intended it to be a joke remains irrelevant at a time when the noose is back to being used as a racist statement. The noose, as the NAACP claims, is “a symbol of the racist, segregation-era violence enacted on blacks. It remains a stark symbol of violent racism.”
It continues to haunt Black Americans to this day—as recently as in May, a noose was left at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Workers at a General Motors in Ohio continue to complain of nooses left hanging in the workplace. More recently, Empire actor Jussie Smollett was attacked by two men who reportedly put a noose around him in what’s being investigated as a hate crime.
In this particular case, it doesn’t help that nearly 50 percent of the students at the Roosevelt Middle School are African-American, and 55 percent are Latino students.
“It seems like students in the class were deceived that they thought in an environment with a loving teacher but actually there were acts of racism going on right under their noise,” said Mackey, adding that such acts “instill racism and inferiority into the hearts and minds of the children defeats purpose of education.”
Samira Sadeque is a New York-based journalist reporting on immigration, sexual violence, and mental health, and will sometimes write about memes and dinosaurs too. Her work also appears in Reuters, NPR, and NBC among other publications. She graduated from Columbia Journalism School, and her work has been nominated for SAJA awards. Follow: @Samideque