Hate Hits Home: 2nd Hate Incident Discovered in Pelham School District

SJ O’Connor and Stephen Tahbaz

On January 31, a racial slur was discovered in a PMHS boy’s bathroom. Like a bloody slash across the sanctity of our student body, the “n” word was written with a red pen, in capital letters, on the marble window sill. This is the latest in a series of racist and anti-Semitic situations that the high school has encountered since the start of the school year. The image of a swastika was found inside a middle school bathroom on September 27. Upon further examination, a total of three similar images were discovered in both bathrooms and locker rooms in the middle school on October 2. When news of the latest incident spread through the high school, students were quick to respond.

“As a leader of the black student empowerment club, it’s very saddening hearing about the hate crime that occurred in the boys bathroom. I do not believe the “n” word should be used from any student/person whether black or white due to its ugly history. It’s history is rooted in degradation, enslavement and dehumanization,” senior Nafisa Hood said.

Superintendent Champ reported this latest discovery in an email that was sent out to district parents and teachers, but notably not disseminated to students. In fact, the incident was not addressed over announcements or in class until February 10. In the email, Dr. Champ mentioned the steps towards combating hate that the high school has taken this year, and stated that the investigation to find a responsible party is being executed in cooperation with the local authorities.

Assistant Principal Rothstein updated PMHS students in an announcement on February 10, stating that, along with the investigation, “We are hosting an Assistant District Attorney on Friday to discuss Hate and Bias Crimes with our 9th and 12th grade students.” He emphasized that “We must not be okay with our school being a place where students don’t feel like they belong or where they fear being singled-out in a negative light. Hate has no home here.”

While it is believed that these hate symbols were not intended to target any individuals, administration officials took immediate action to make it clear that this kind of behavior would not be tolerated in the Pelham Schools District.

“The word that was written makes me disappointed in my peers. It carries a history of oppression and hatred and to have it graffitied in our school is an ignorant action. The way the school responds to the action is important as well. The event that occurred should notify the faculty, parents, and the students. With the event happening at the start of Black History Month, our students should be aware of the social growth we have made as human beings in our way to love and welcome all,” senior Morgan Jenkins said.