North Baltimore private school community rallies against racism
Dozens of students, faculty and parents of the Gilman and Roland Park Country schools held a rally against racism Tuesday morning in North Baltimore, after photos on social media portrayed area private school students and graduates wearing racially insensitive Halloween costumes.
The organizers, Sabrina Johnson, Ashlee Tuck and Sydnee Wilson Ruff, African-American members of the Roland Park Country School alumnae board, said they wanted to stand against racial ignorance and highlight administrators’ efforts to foster a more inclusive, racially sensitive atmosphere.
“Racism exists everywhere,” Ruff said. “This is not a reflection of what this community is about. This is an inclusive community. We stand together, and when things like this happen, we band together to turn the situation around for good.”
A photo of a pair of students from Roland Park and Gilman wearing orange prison jumpsuits at a party was posted online, with a racial slur inserted, by a student at Mount St. Joseph High School, the schools’ officials confirmed. The same weekend, a Boys’ Latin School graduate was photographed at a separate party wearing a prison jumpsuit with “Freddie Gray” written on the back.
Gray, 25, died of injuries sustained in police custody in April 2015, prompting protests against police brutality followed by rioting on the day of his funeral.
Private school students from the Baltimore, Washington and Northern Virginia areas will attend the 2017 Student Diversity Leadership Conference at Glenelg Country School on Saturday, where they’ll hear from poet Theo E. J. Wilson and former NAACP president and Maryland Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous, said Kaliq Simms, former diversity director at Roland Park Country and Park schools.
Simms said the costumes were the latest example of high school students testing — and overstepping — the boundaries of what’s appropriate.
“It also shows how social media can take that and re-victimize and further exploit minorities,” she said.