By Mindy Lucas
Officials with the Beaufort County School District say they will form a task force to address racism after they were made aware of a racist post circulating on social media last week.
The announcement was made at a press conference held on Friday, Jan. 29, at the district’s office in Beaufort, in which both the post and racist behavior were condemned.
“We are hurt that this situation occurred in one of our schools, but it has shown a light on some of the negativity that we have seen recently in our nation,” said the school district’s superintendent Frank Rodriguez.
The post, made by another student, included a photo taken of three Black members of the Bluffton High School basketball team, without their knowledge. Below the photo were the words “(expletive) monkeys.”
At Friday’s press conference, which also included parents of the boys targeted in the post, Rodriguez said that the school district does not tolerate “racism, hatred or divisiveness in any form.”
“We’re better than this and this is not who we are,” he said. “We have an expectation that these racist behaviors will not exist in our schools.”
Rodriguez said the student behind the post had been identified and disciplinary action had been taken. While he wouldn’t say what that entailed, he did say it was “severe.”
One parent at the press conference tried to summarize how the students had felt and were feeling.
“These are kids where they come from generations of natives,” said Kenneth Frazier Jr. “They have grown up in their home, in their parent’s home, grandparents and great grandparents, and it’s such a tragedy that they don’t feel connected to where the spirit of their lineage was birthed.”
Frazier went on to say he was extremely proud of the boys who handled the situation with dignity, grace, integrity and empathy.
He called the forming of the task force a “first good step” and that the parents stood ready to partner with the district and the community.
“But we’re looking for much more sustained involvement and discussion and conversation,” he said. “This is much larger than one high school, one set of kids. It’s larger than that.”
Above: Superintendent Frank Rodriguez condemned a racist social media post by a student. Photo courtesy of BCSD