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August 22, 2019

Mayor de Blasio tussles with Brooklyn students over blackface story tweet

February 6, 2019
Mayor Bill de Blasio is pictured in Brooklyn on Feb. 5. (Jesse Ward for New York Daily News)

Students at a famous Brooklyn high school scandalized by a blackface video are not happy with Mayor de Blasio’s activities on Twitter.

Teen leaders from elite Poly Prep Country Day School took de Blasio to task in a letter published last week for tweeting a “misleading message” about the viral video controversy that roiled the school.

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After The News broke the story of the video in which in which girls from Poly Prep wore blackface makeup and jumped and gibbered like monkeys, de Blasio took the school to task on social media.

“Poly Prep has some real explaining to do,” he wrote on Twitter January 20, with a link to a story about the flap.

“And what’s absolutely clear is that a conversation about racism at the school is long overdue,” he added.

But Poly Prep students hit back in a letter published two days later in which they argued that the kids involved in the blackface video represented just a fraction of Poly Prep.

They also noted that far more students participated in demonstrations against the video.

“We are writing in response to your recent Tweet about our school, Poly Prep,” stated the teens’ letter, which was signed by the student government and the black students’ affinity group, Umoja.

“It was an oversimplified and inflammatory reaction,” the letter continued.

The campus of Poly Prep Country Day School on 7th Avenue in Dyker Heights on Jan. 19.
The campus of Poly Prep Country Day School on 7th Avenue in Dyker Heights on Jan. 19. (Jeff Bachner for New York Daily News)

The students also invited de Blasio to visit Poly Prep to see for himself.

“We invite you to come visit our campus before you pass judgment,” the letter said. “As a student body, we are absolutely committed to making our school a space where all feel respected and safe.”

De Blasio hasn’t visited the school and his reps wouldn’t say if one is in the works.

But he did send the students a letter on Wednesday in response to their message.

He didn’t apologize for the Tweet, but he praised Poly Prep students for “holding administrators and faculty to a high standard” and for mounting a strong response to the video.

He also invited them hold the rest of the city accountable, too.

“We have a responsibility to ensure that our city remains a beacon of hope and equality for the world,” de Blasio wrote to the teens. “Students like you, who are willing to tackle these difficult issues head-on, will help us keep that promise.”

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He added: “I look forward to seeing the change you are sure to bring about at your school, and all that you will accomplish in the years to come.”

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