Students at one of the city's most prestigious high schools should be gearing up for the second half of the school year, but instead, many are dealing with what they call a growing problem of racism in the classroom. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.
It started on Facebook earlier this month with a hashtag linking stories of racism students say they face at one of the city's elite high schools.
"It's been an accumulation of microagressions that we face or flat-out racism remarks that we face, not just by students but by faculty," said Aisha Thermidor, a student at Brooklyn Tech.
Now, a few weeks after the #blackinbrooklyntech hashtag went viral, the school says it has suspended several students, required every teacher go through sensitivity training, and began planning ways to recruit and prepare more black middle-school students to gain admission.
Many of the stories posted online include quotes, attributed to other students or teachers, such as:
"At least slaves could sit down and eat with their masters";
"The day you get above a 90 average I'll grow an Afro," attributed to a guidance counselor;
"You're so smart for a black person"
"It was a little alarming when, you know, you go on Facebook and these younger students are somewhat crying out for help and reaching out to us to show up," said Kareem Hinckson, a member of the Brooklyn Tech Class of 1997.
Wednesday night, about 200 alumni met with administrators to discuss what the school is doing to address the issue.
Many alumni were particularly concerned that the percentage of black students has plummeted at the school. Twenty years ago, close to 40 percent of the students at Brooklyn Tech were black. Now, it’s 8 percent.
"This is what amazes me, because I never never experienced this when I was going here. One iota," said Gerry Ligonde, a member of the Brooklyn Tech Class of 1991.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose son Dante graduated from Brooklyn Tech in June, has said he would like to modify the admissions process to create more diversity at the city's elite schools, but that would take a change in state law.
Meanwhile, the principal has been meeting with student groups about the school's issues, and all complaints against staff members are being investigated by the city.
As of Wednesday, Brooklyn Tech has an official comprehensive corrective action plan in place to deal with racism and hate speech, and how to become a more inclusive community.