Two seniors at a respected Catholic Bergen County high school used a racial epithet and then cursed “Black Lives Matter” while downing shots in an offensive viral video that has brought widespread wrath on a shaken community.
"Don't be snowflakes," one student from the all-girls Immaculate Heart Academy in Washington Township says, before the other utters a racial epithet during a 25-second clip recorded at a Valentine’s Day party in earshot of other underage teens.
Laughter is heard, after which the second girl leans into the camera leans and repeats the epithet, then says "Black Lives Matter" and sticks out her tongue.
“ ‘Black Lives Matter,’ my d**k,” an off-camera voice says.
A local viewer called the video -- recorded without masks during a pandemic and shared on social media -- a “horrible display of racism and white privilege” that “should be headline news.”
“Imagine how uncomfortable the people of color at IHA must feel walking the halls with this. Disgusting,” another tweeted.
Alumnae and current students at Immaculate Heart Academy have signed a petition calling for the expulsion of the two on-screen seniors and “actions from the administration to further promote racial equality,” one student said.
Bergen County Chapter President Junius Carter said sensitivity training, and not expulsion, is more in order because the video wasn't recorded on school property or at a school function.
The girls' apparently prideful intolerance seems borne of attitudes bred in them by parents, he said.
The mother of one of the girls is a teacher at IHA and her father a local police officer.
The Twitter account of the girl who posted the video apparently had been deleted. Others have tweeted recordings of it from their phones.
WARNING: A tweet of the video, posted by @actuallydisgust, includes profanity and racist comments:
Both students have been suspended pending the outcome of an investigation – monitored by the Archdiocese of Newark -- that could lead to an extension of the suspension or expulsion under specific school criteria.
Maria Margiotta, the archdiocese’s director of communications and public relations, told Daily Voice in an email:
"The administration of Immaculate Heart Academy (IHA) became aware of a video posted online in recent days by two of its students. The video was offensive, racially insensitive, and contrary to the values of the IHA community and the Catholic Church.
"The school administration responded quickly and consistently, following proper protocols, and have been in contact with the families of the involved students. The administration also reached out to the school community to advise them of the unfortunate incident. Following a thorough review of this matter, appropriate disciplinary measures will be implemented.
"Our Catholic school communities do not tolerate any racial discrimination or insensitivity, or other violation of our Catholic-based teachings and values, and the IHA school administration pledges to reinforce these Gospel values in light of this matter."
Immaculate Heart is currently on spring break.
In a letter to the community, IHA President Patricia Molloy expressed how distressed school officials are by the offensiveness of the video.
She also emphasized the need to meet with the families and the students themselves as part of due process, which is required in such instances.
One parent said the girls "are not simply guilty of poor judgment and drunken foolishness, although they certainly are guilty of that. What you see in the video, and what needs proper condemnation, is their special kind of righteous belligerence. A kind of: 'Yeah, so what? I said it!'
"The level of comfort they have in forming those words is what disturbed me most. The boldness is appalling, and shows how little regard they actually have for people of color, including their classmates. It wasn’t directed at one who harmed them, or attacked them in any way, not a personal grudge."
Instead, she said, they "launched a diffuse, vague vitriol on people of color, just for giggles.
"I suspect the desire to be seen as bold, brash, and belligerent has long since passed," the parent added. "All that seems to be left is a review of, and a concern about, the adverse consequences to them. I have little sympathy for that, and since they are seniors, the time left to reorient them to the Catholic values espoused by IHA is little."
Another parent told Daily Voice that school officials are clearly “taking it very seriously and taking necessary steps to move forward.”
Molloy will ultimately decide the girls’ fate at the school after consulting a team of administrators who include Principal Jason Schlereth and two assistant principals.
School officials needed to first meet with the families and students involved and “give them an opportunity to tell their side of the story” before any final decisions were made, the parent said.
“It's a horrible, horrible situation,” the parent said. “Nobody is making any excuses for them. What they did was atrocious.”
School officials, staff, parents and classmates “hurt the most” for IHA’s Black students, she added.
The 60-year-old academy has revised its curriculum to emphasize inclusion, with a social justice program and Black culture club, among other initiatives, the parent noted.
Black IHA students “know who we are, and they're hurt by this,” the parent said. “One of them said she sat next to one of the girls and didn’t know she could say something like this.
“Our school isn't a racist place. These kids started drinking and started making inappropriate and unacceptable comments. Then somebody decides it's funny and they post it.
“The damage that could be done by this….I hate to think.”
“It feels overwhelming,” the parent confided. “How do you deal with this? How do you cope with it? It’s really heartbreaking.”
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