New York Teacher Compares Black Students to Monkeys in Photo

Illustration for article titled New York Teacher Compares Black Students to Monkeys in Photo
Screenshot: Samantha Starr (NBC News)

It seems as though a week can’t go by without a racist incident occurring in an American classroom.


NBC News reports that the parents of four black students at Longwood High School in Long Island are planning to sue the school district for $12 million. They filed a notice of claim after a teacher displayed a slideshow comparing their children to monkeys. The slideshow had one image of a gorilla that said “monkey see,” followed by a picture of the four children with the words “monkey do.” The students expressed that they felt deeply embarrassed when the image was shown.

The picture was taken during a class field trip to the zoo in November. According to the claim, the students were “deliberately persuaded, tricked and cajoled” by the teacher to take the picture. One of the students alleges in the claim that he took video of the slideshow on his phone only to be told to destroy it and be threatened with school suspension. The superintendent of Longwood Central School District, Michael Lonergan, issued a statement calling the image “culturally insensitive,” and an “unfortunate lapse of judgement.”

I, for one, am frankly getting tired of seeing our children have to endure blatant racism when they’re just trying to get an education. Last week, The Root reported on a student being asked to portray a slave for a class assignment. Last month, The Root writer Jay Connor reported on a school assignment that required students to “set their price for a slave.” I’m genuinely befuddled how these people are allowed to be teachers. I feel like “don’t be racist” should be a pretty easy bar to clear. At a certain point, it’s up to the schools to have better policies and screening methods in place so shit like this doesn’t happen. Clearly, their little “cultural sensitivity” training isn’t working. Besides the fact that incidents like these are patently fucked up, you’d think they would want to actively prevent them so they don’t have to stare down the barrel of multi-million dollar lawsuits. If they’re not going to be guided by their conscience then they should at least be considerate of their budget.

No word has been released on what, if any, disciplinary action has been taken against the teacher.

The stylin', profilin', limousine riding, jet flying, wheelin' and dealin' nerd of The Root.


“I feel like “don’t be racist” should be a pretty easy bar to clear.”

You’d think so, but whenever you hear somebody say they haven’t got a racist bone in their body, you can be certain that they actually believe it. They do ignorant shit because they are ignorant.

People raised with racism all around them don’t see it unless they look for it, and they don’t look for it because they don’t see it. Purging that shit from your soul takes a lifetime, and you never finish. I’m sixty, and I’ve been working at it for forty-five years. I like to think I’m pretty good, but I still catch myself making unfounded assumptions and learning more unpleasant history.