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Fieldston school race controversy explodes in protest

2019-03-11

Students talk about a protest inside Ethical Culture Fieldston School in the Bronx.

Hundreds of students occupied Ethical Culture Fieldston School in the Bronx Monday and locked out administrators in response to a racist video and other racial issues at the posh private school.

The Daily News broke the story in February of racial unrest at the elite Riverdale school after an ugly and offensive video of white students repeating the phrase “crack n----r” went viral.

On Monday, dozens of students declared themselves fed up with the Fieldston administration’s lack of response to the video – and other alleged racial issues at the school. The teens took over school buildings in protest and broadcast parts of their occupation live online.

The protesters, who call themselves Students of Color Matter, want official disciplinary decision regarding the video made publicly available. They also want a written apology from each student in the video.

“There’s been multiple incidents here at Fieldston regarding race,” said a sophomore named Gabe who was participating in the protest. “And in response to a lot of these racial incidents we are having this sit in today.”

ECFS Hundreds of Ethical Culture Fieldston School students are protesting what they describe as systemic racism and a culture of silence at the Bronx school by occupying learning spaces and locking out school administrators. (Molly Crane-Newman for the Daily News)

Another student named Josh said that kids of color at Fieldston are treated poorly compared to white kids.

“The reason for this is because students here, students of color specifically, are treated like second class citizens,” he said. “The lockout is to try to shed light on the fact that students of color really aren’t being represented here at all.”

Parents were informed of the protest with an email sent by school administrators Monday morning.

Students occupy Fieldston School buildings in race protest
Students occupy Fieldston School buildings in race protest (Courtesy of Zoë Casdin)

“The group has shared a list of demands prompted by recent events in the Upper School, but rooted in systemic and cultural concerns that have persisted over the course of their educational experience at ECFS, from Lower School through Upper School,” the email reads.

“Upper School classes scheduled in classrooms in buildings other than the 200s will meet, and faculty will make judgments about moving forward with the lessons planned for the day, depending on the students’ state of mind,” the email continues.

The flap at Fieldston is one of a number of racial incidents in elite New York City private schools this year. Racist incidents also prompted recent protests at Poly Prep Country Day School and Mary McDowell Friends School, both in Brooklyn.