A video that went viral last week on social media has led to two white teenage girls being “no longer enrolled” at St. Hubert Catholic School for Girls in Philadelphia, according to officials.
The video made a mockery of Black people, with one girl spraying black paint on another girl’s face while another girl laughed and recorded. The teens posted it on Snapchat with a Black History Month filter. The video found its way to Twitter and reached over 11 million views.
The video sparked outrage on social media and in Philadelphia’s Black community, which led to the school being moved to remote learning due to protests that took place on campus. Several Black parents accused school administration and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia of ignoring repeated warnings about racism.
“I was paying for my child to get harassed and bullied and it’s not OK,” Nikole Hines, a Black parent, told The Philadelphia Inquirer at last Wednesday’s protest over the video.
Principal Gina Mackenzie and President Lizanne Pando sent out a letter to the parents on Feb. 11 with an update on the incident.
The letter stated on the first page:
“The severity of the situation at hand demanded and the repugnant nature of the behavior on the part of some of our students demanded that we swiftly conduct a thorough investigation that examined all possible facts. That process has concluded. As a result, the young women who responsible for this situation have been identified and they are no longer members of this school community.”
The language used didn’t clarify whether the students had been expelled or the parents decided to withdraw the students. That also sparked backlash from social media, where many suggested that the punishment was not harsh enough. Some people also stated that the school “protected” the students by not saying whether they were expelled.
“The question is not whether they are still enrolled, because the thinking behind it is still in the midst. The question is what made them think it was ok to make the video to begin with,” said Reginald Johnston on Twitter.
“Kicking them out of school I think was the easy way out, staying in school and being an outcast would have taught them a lot more about consequences,” another user wrote.
“Lovely white girls at a Catholic school being racist? No surprise,” one Twitter user wrote.
The school also mentioned in the letter that the students returned to the classrooms Monday, and there would be a heightened police presence on campus to ensure everyone’s safety, possibly in fear that more protests would occur. The letter also detailed that healing resources would be provided and new training for staff members on Feb. 20.
“As previously planned, the Anti-Defamation League will be offering Anti-Bias Workshops with our faculty, staff, and administration on February 20. We are also going to offer the peer-based training program that will lead to our designation as a No Place for Hate school,” said the principal and school president in the letter sent to parents.