A Florida Christian school is under fire after several of its students engaged in a racially charged online “debate” over the the best way to say the N-word.
Via Instagram, students from the First Academy in Orlando asked one another which form of the racial slur was more “respectful” to Black people — saying it with an “er” at the end or just an “a.”
“I think ni—a is more respectful,” wrote Olivia Duncan, the student responsible for initiating the racist banter. “Duke thinks it isn’t supposed to be used as a respectful term. So, like for ni—er, comment for ni—a. Thanks everyone.”
Soon afterward, other students began to chime in on what they they thought was the best way to say the word.
“Lmao both,” one student wrote. “If you’re best friends, you can say it with a hard ‘r’. But if you regularly chill, then you just say ni—a.”
“Ya. But if you’re driving down the road and you see a dark person, what would you say?,” another student asked in response.
Screenshots of the remarks quickly made its rounds on social media, sparking outrage. A writer from the New York Daily News blasted the First Academy for the behavior of its “Christian” students.
Head of School Dr. Steve Whitaker has since issued a statement denouncing the inappropriate comments posted by his students.
“TFA does not condone or support this conduct, and will not tolerate this type of behavior,” Whitaker said. “We have taken and are taking, deliberate steps to address this issue. As we reflect on this situation, we have realized there is much work to do in the area of racial reconciliation that we must take ownership of.”
“Let me state unequivocally, that any comments related to race or culture that are discriminatory in attitude or action, will not be tolerated,” he continued. “Despite our longstanding tradition of acceptance and inclusivity, we remain an imperfect school made up of imperfect people in need of God’s grace and forgiveness.”
Despite damage control efforts, the school’s pressing issues of bigotry and discrimination still made themselves known. After the incident, an African-American student who attended the First Academy came forward to detail his/her experience with racism while at the institution.
“I was filled with joy to learn that my mother was pulling me out of the school because of the treatment I experienced at this institution,” a former student wrote in an e-mail to the New York Daily News. “I was socially ousted by staff and students because of the way I speak and my hair. I wore it in an Afro style and was ridiculed because of it.”
“I just want to make it clear in NO WAY is this a one time incident of a couple of misinformed students, but a longstanding culture of bigotry and misuse of the beliefs system that I personally hold to,” they continued.
Another student came forward and accused the school of trading monetary donations for “handshakes and hellos” and covering up incidents of drug use, sexual assault, and grade changing, among other things.
“The First Academy ruined my life in ways I can’t go into detail about by digging into my own personal life outside school and bringing them into school,” the student wrote. “The day I left this school is when I found myself and found God.”
There’s no word on how The First Academy plans to discipline its students.