by Dave Urbanski
A New York state school district has been blasted for racism after calling a snowman created by fourth graders “just as diverse as our students.”
What are the details?
The Coxsackie-Athens Central School District on Tuesday posted a photo on its Facebook page showing three students standing behind a snowman, WRRV-FM reported. Coxsackie is about half an hour south of Albany.
“Today’s CE Fourth Grade Playground Fun!” the caption read. “This snowman is just as diverse as our students!” Presumably “CE” stands for Coxsackie Elementary School, which is one of two elementary schools in the district.
Complaints about the photo’s caption rolled in — and some were from “people of color,” WRRV said.
While the post was taken down the same day, screenshots were reposted to social media.
“I don’t want to be compared to a dirty snowman, a snowman w mud = a black, ethnic, diverse snowman & that’s not weird to you?” one commenter asked as part of the above screenshot’s post. “It’s a lazy & thoughtless way of trying to be ‘inclusive’ instead of hiring more Black&/Brown staff or trying to find ways to make the Black&/Brown community more comfortable, or embrace diversity real ways, real causes of action, not just a muddy snowman & implying it’s diverse …it’s nonsensical & dehumanizing.”
That same individual added in an another comment that as a seventh grader in the Coxsackie-Athens Central School District, her math teacher deemed it “appropriate to refer to me as a monkey while using me as an example in a math problem.”
Another commenter noted that “this is where language and white privilege collide… smh, i’m sure it was said with innocent intentions from someone who lacks education on diversity, lacks socially acceptable humor, and clearly needs a reality check,” the New York Post reported.
Another commenter wasn’t buying the outrage and offered another idea, saying the students in the photo “are children, and instead of worrying what color [their] friends are or what [they’ve] been through, try worrying more about getting them a carrot and 2 buttons for [their] snowman and just let them be kids and have fun.”
Someone else added, “Such a shame that so many people have a tendency to see everything through a ‘racial’ or ‘ethnic’ lens. The supposed enlightenment of being ‘woke’ has sadly created a culture of hypersensitivity. How far away from enlightenment society has actually gone!”
How did the school district respond?
The district’s superintendent, Randy Squier, penned a message on the district’s website Tuesday saying the post was taken down and was “never intended to be hurtful”:
Today, a post was uploaded to our Facebook page that has since been deleted. The post was a picture of three kids standing next to the snowman they had created during recess. The post stated, ‘This snowman is just as diverse as our students.’ The word ‘diverse’ was used to describe how every kid can make a snowman differently and this variety of creativity should be celebrated. When it was commented that this post could be interpreted about race the post was taken down. We want to apologize and reiterate it was never intended to be hurtful.
Families of the students in the picture have already been contacted personally. We will use this as an opportunity to review our social media policies and procedures and continue our commitment to providing a learning environment where every person feels that they belong.