- A Boston museum publicly apologised after a group of seventh-grade students on a field trip said they endured racist comments from staff and patrons.
- One employee told the children, “No food, no drink, no watermelon,” the students’ teacher said.
- Then, a security guard trailed the children throughout their tour, while leaving other white students alone, according to the school’s principal.
- Officials from the Museum of Fine Arts published an open letter on the museum’s website apologizing for the experience and vowing to investigate what happened.
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A Boston museum issued a public apology on Wednesday after a group of seventh-grade students on a field trip reportedly left in tears, saying they had endured racist and degrading comments.
The problems reportedly began before the students even set foot inside the city’s Museum of Fine Arts last week. An employee told the children, “No food, no drink, no watermelon,” according to their teacher, Marvelyne Lamy.
The comment stung the roughly 30 children who had attended, all of whom were students of colour, The Boston Globe reported. Watermelons have historically been used as racist stereotypes against African-Americans.
But that wasn’t the only humiliation the students endured. A security guard then followed the students inside and shadowed them throughout their tour, Lamy told the local ABC affiliate WCBV, trailing them throughout their tour.
“As soon as we would walk, he would walk. When we would stop, he would stop,” Lamy said. “At that point, I grew uncomfortable, so I told the kids we are going to gather up and go.”
The security guard tailed only their group, leaving white students alone, according to the principal of the Helen Y. Davis Leadership Academy, Arturo Forrest.
It wasn’t just the museum staff that made the students feel unwelcome – teachers said other patrons made comments that made the students feel “unsafe.”
“One of the guests said to our students, ‘I hope you’re paying attention so you don’t become a stripper,'” another teacher, Taliana June, told WCVB. “That was completely inappropriate to say to a seventh-grade student.”
Another patrol called the students “[expletive] black kids,”Forrest told The Globe.
Officials from the Museum of Fine Arts published an open letter on the museum’s website apologizing to the school for the students’ experience and promising to “create a culture of unwavering inclusion” and investigate what happened during the students’ field trip.
“Last week, a number of students on an organised visit encountered a range of challenging and unacceptable experiences that made them feel unwelcome,” the statement said. “That is not who we are or want to be. Our intention is to set the highest of standards, and we are committed to doing the work that it will take to get there.”
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