Lawsuit says Black family ‘endured unimaginable racism’ at NYC public schools
This is one of several cases of racial offenses in public schools across the country that theGrio has reported on.
Bullying, violence, trauma and dehumanizing treatment. That’s what a Black family says their kids go through at their public school in New York City.
Tiffany and Amos Winbush, whose two children go to Peck Slip elementary school, allege that they’ve faced years of racism, harassment and abuse. Consistent complaints by the couple went ignored and they filed a lawsuit in response.
The lawsuit accuses the school of turning a blind eye to horrendous treatment. One of the Winbush children has allegedly been assaulted multiple times with kids also threatening to kill them. A student also spat in the face of one of the children, according to the lawsuit.
This is one of several cases of racial offenses in public schools across the country that theGrio has reported on, including incidents involving racist graffiti, offensive chants at a soccer game, bullying and blackface.
The lawsuit, filed last month in a U.S. district court in New York, explains how much the parents tried to address these issues, only for them to be ignored by the administrators.
“School officials have fostered, enabled and perpetuated a racially hostile environment at Peck Slip, and that environment has emboldened students to harass and abuse the Winbush children,” the lawsuit says. “Amos and Tiffany have complained ad nauseum, but school officials have allowed the abuse to continue semester after semester.”
In one instance, after a lawyer for the Winbushes wrote a letter to the school administrators about these issues, one of the teachers told their daughter that they shouldn’t go home and tell their parents what goes on in the classroom because it “paints the teachers in a bad light.”
The New York City Department of Education did not respond to a request for comment about this lawsuit, but the school system is known for its segregated student populations. A report released in 2021 by the UCLA Civil Rights Project shows that segregation in New York schools is the worst in the country.
“Public schools should be a safe and nurturing environment, where mutual trust and understanding grow. This lawsuit shines a bright light on the fact that New York City public schools are too often places filled with racism, retaliation, and fear,” Joshua Moskovitz, a lawyer representing the Winbush family, said in a statement.
The allegations at Peck Slip bear similarities to ones made in California in February. Four Black families filed a lawsuit against the Upland School District in San Bernardino County, saying that their children were bullied during Black History Month. They allege that white students called their kids a “cotton picker” and a “slave.”
In Philadelphia, white students at the St. Hubert Catholic High School for Girls made racist comments about Black people, while one of the student’s faces was covered in black spray paint. A video of the incident spread across social media and the students responsible were kicked out of the school.
For the Winbushes, their lawsuit is not about an apology, it’s about action and accountability. “No child should have to experience what the Winbush children have experienced,” Moskovitz says. “No parent should have to go through what Tiffany and Amos Winbush have gone through. This lawsuit is about righting that wrong.”
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