GOLDSTON, N.C. – Black students at a North Carolina middle school were reportedly “sold” by classmates during a “slave auction” last week, a move that prompted a letter from the county superintendent to families condemning “unacceptable incidents.”
Ashley Palmer, whose son attends J.S. Waters, a K-8 school in Goldston, posted about the alleged auction on Facebook, WRAL-TV reported. She said her son told her that one of his friends “went for $350″ during the March 4 auction, and another student was designated as the “slavemaster” because he “knew how to handle them,” the television station reported.
“Our son experienced a slave auction by his classmates, and when he opened up we were made aware that this type of stuff seems to be the norm so much that he didn’t think it was worth sharing,” Palmer wrote in a Facebook post. “We even have a video of students harmonizing the N-word. Since when were children so blatantly racist?”
According to this year’s data, the 195-student school is 68% white, 12% Black, 12% Hispanic and 6% of two or more races, The News & Observer of Raleigh reported.
In a letter sent to parents on Tuesday night, Chatham County Superintendent Anthony Jackson told families that the district had “become aware of recent incidents involving students using racially insensitive language and offensive imagery.”
“As a school system and community, we cannot be silent in the face of incidents and behavior that create an unsafe or uncomfortable environment for students in our schools,” Jackson wrote. “No student, staff, or family should be silent when their humanity, dignity or identity are threatened, disrespected or challenged.
“I want to be crystal clear: Racist, homophobic or otherwise hateful behavior or speech has no place in the Chatham County School System. We are better than this as a school system and a community.”
In a follow-up Facebook post on Monday, Palmer wrote that students received a one-day suspension for the auction but that no action had been taken about the video. She also said that the student who was the slavemaster “accidentally” hit her son with a baseball four times upon his return to school.
“It’s a shame my child isn’t safe at school,” Palmer wrote. “Where is the staff when this is happening? Now when my son gets fed up, will they protect him the way they have protected this other child?”
Nancy Wykle, a Chatham County schools spokesperson, declined to comment Wednesday on Palmer’s accusations and referred back to the district’s letter, the News & Observer reported.