A racist social media post showing a masked student alongside the N-word has prompted an investigation at a Catholic high school in Virginia.
Administrators at the all-girls Saint Gertrude High School in Richmond are promising punishments in the wake of the incident. Yet, the offending post didn’t come as much surprise to some former students who say this isn’t the first time the school has dealt with instances of racism.
Officials said they learned of the post last Friday after it began circulating on social media. The image, initially posted to Snapchat, shows the student wearing the Richmond school’s uniform while holding a mask from what appears to be a CPR dummy over her face.
The word “N—-r” was captioned underneath.
“To have something this disrespectful happen is shocking,” said Saint Gertrude Head of School Sister Cecilia Dwyer. “I know I was shocked when I saw it.”
“We’re trying to get to the bottom of how it happened and how it evolved,” she added, telling local station NBC 12 an investigation was launched the very day administrators learned about the incident.
Saint Gertrude alum Taylor Moore called the matter “disheartening” and said the students involved should face expulsion.
“It just shocks me [because] that was never my experience there,” Moore said. “I think there is a valuable lesson that serious actions have serious consequences. I’m praying for the school and the administrator [to] make the right decisions.”
Fellow alum Brittany Hough, who graduated in 2008, was just as shocked by it all and said the incident was an affront to the “memories of togetherness and camaraderie” she experienced during her time at Saint Gertrude.
Other students begged to differ. A young woman who claims to be a former pupil at the all-girls school said she was targeted with threatening and racist hate mail — incidents she says were never investigated. The girl said she left after her freshman year.
“Ok sooo St. Gertrude High School in Richmond Va, how are y’all going to handle this??,” she tweeted. “You didn’t do anything when I was a student and I had threatening and outright racist mail sent to my house. Learn from your mistakes and punish this girl properly. @SaintGertrudeVA”
Other students, and even some parents, took to social media to share similar stories.
“My daughter went to St Gertrude’s High School in Richmond, VA. They apparently have a history of sweeping racist stuff like this under the carpet,” another user wrote. “This cannot be allowed!”
James “J.J.” Minor, president of the Richmond NAACP, said he’s received more than 30 phone calls from angry parents over the incident.
“Whether they’re children or not, they did it plain and simple,” he told NBC 12, decrying the use of blackface as a mockery of African-Americans. “Someone taught them how to do it and folks know what Blackface means and it is offensive.”
Saint Gertrude students say they know the girl in the photo and another teen who was reportedly involved. Those students were reportedly absent from class on Monday, one parent said.
Watch more in the video below.