Black Middletown High School student speaks out against student racism

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MIDDLETOWN – A Middletown High School student who said she was traumatized on multiple levels by racist social media postings by white students and lack of school district response, has written to school administrators expressing her concern.

Superintendent of Schools Richard Del Moro responded to Jazmine Alvarez-Webster’s letter, telling Mid-Hudson News, “We take all the allegations very seriously.” He said the issue was addressed within the guidelines of the school district code of conduct.

Ms. Alvarez-Webster, wrote that four days after the murder of George Floyd, a white student at the school posted racism comments on her Instagram and Snapchat pages. “For years as a student in Middletown, I have witnessed this student blatantly express her racist thoughts on many social media platforms without being reprimanded for it,” she wrote. “Why was this being allowed by our school district in which 85 percent of students have black or brown skin? Why did my school district have no immediate public response to George Floyd’s murder nor this student’s publicly racist comments?”

Ms. Alvarez-Webster said while she “felt confused and afraid,” she was “passionate about the need to speak up against these threatening posts.”

One June 1, 2020, four days after she posted her responses to the white student’s remarks, Ms. Alvarez-Webster received a call from a high school administrator asking her to delete her comments and that she would not be suspended. 

She complied, yet on June 17, 2020, received a call from another administrator telling her she was suspended.

“I was naturally confused sine I had complied with the previous administrator’s request to delete all posts,” the student wrote in her letter. “When I asked why I was being suspended, he wouldn’t answer me – until this day I wonder why? The principal at Middletown High School also called me later to tell me the white student would be reprimanded for what they did.” But, she said the white student was not suspended.

Since Ms. Alvarez-Webster’s suspension came at the end of the school year, it was enforced during her first five days of the new academic year. “What a devastating way to start my senior year,” she noted.

The racist comments didn’t stop last year. Ms. Alvarez-Webster said during Black History Month, the same student posted a video on social media saying the “n” word to one of her white friends “’jokingly’ under a sarcastic and demeaning tag of ‘black boy job’.”

Superintendent Del Moro said the district is continually striving to reflect the makeup of the student population in its classes and is working to broaden the faculty to be more reflective of the composure of the student population.

Ms. Alvarez-Webster has the support of the grassroots group CARE – Community action Revolutionizing Education. “This scholar continues to be ignored by both the administration and Board of Education of Middletown City School District,” according to a statement from the group. “CARE asks that the administration and school board investigate the incident and make sure all parties are held responsible for their roles.”