Catholic school investigating racially insensitive photo posted on social media

Published: Jan. 13, 2020 at 11:08 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - There’s controversy at a Richmond high school after a racially offensive photo of a student was uploaded on social media.

Right now, administrators at St. Gertrude High School - an all girl’s Catholic High School, are investigating after a white student took a photo holding a Blackface mask. The N-word was then attached as a label.

Due to the offensive nature of the photo that involves a minor, NBC 12 is not sharing that image.

The head administrator at the school says she heard about this situation Friday and launched an investigation that same day.

The racially offensive image is making the rounds on social media.

"I’m just shocked…This is 2020,” James Benson said.

The N-word is plastered below the image of a white female student in school uniform posing with a black face mask.

"If this is the atmosphere, then that’s not someplace I’d want to send my child,” Danielle Jones said.

Sister Cecilia Dwyer is the head administrator at St. Gertrude’s Catholic School. "It was a huge indiscretion on the part of a couple of students but it’s one that we deeply regret and one we can’t tolerate as part of our culture. It doesn’t represent who we are,” Dwyer said.

On the day she learned about it, the school sent a letter to parents saying in part “This morning we became aware of some deeply troubling and racially insensitive imagery making its way through our community..."

"We’re trying to untangle the knot of who did what and when and there will be consequences,” Dwyer added.

That's what a community is demanding.

"I received over 30 phone calls about this incident, especially from some of the parents…Blackface has an evil history of mocking African-Americans…Whether they're children or not, they did it plain and simple. Someone taught them how to do it and folks know what Blackface means and it is offensive,” said JJ Minor with the Richmond NAACP.

"It's just unfortunate that you have to just keep trying to explain over and over again that this is not ok,” Jones said.

Students say they know both the person who was shown in the photo and another student who was involved. One parent tells NBC 12 those two students did not show up to school Monday.

“I am shocked and saddened by what has happened at the school I loved so dearly. I have so many memories of togetherness and camaraderie during my high school career that I am really at a loss for words that something this awful would happen within those walls. I really hope those involved get removed from school and really get to see the true consequences of their actions…” Brittany Hough, a 2008 graduate of St. Gertrude, told NBC 12 in a statement.

NBC 12 will pass along updates as they happen.

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