Raising money for schools is a difficult task and because of this many parents often step in to assist. From selling goods to courting donations from local businesses, Parent Teacher Associations (PTA) frequently play an integral role in supporting our schools. One Brooklyn group, however, is currently under fire for a fundraising flyer that included images of blackface, as reported by the New York Daily News.
Announcing its speakeasy-themed gala, PS 118’s PTA pulled vintage images from the era, but apparently, they didn’t review them too closely. One of the images featured a group of white performers with painted black faces and exaggerated features, a common racist trope from the 1920s.
Once the images hit the web back in January, they caused a stir from concerned parents, who say the flyer isn’t the only problematic thing that’s happened at the elementary school.
“There have been a multitude of complaints regarding students of color being teased, insulted and bullied by fellow white students with no real action taken by the school,” an anonymous letter from a “concerned community member” read. The letter also slammed the “all-white PTA executive board” of The Maurice Sendak Community School for putting out the “horrid pictures of blackface.”
PTA co-president, Nadine Baldasare, apologized for the mistake in a letter to parents.
“There are no acceptable excuses for how this happened (it was late, I was tired, I was rushing, etc.) because no excuse can change what I know to be true. My privilege as a white person requires that I be conscientious, engaged and informed when representing our community and promoting events,” Baldasare wrote.
“I failed to be fully engaged here, and as a result, I added to a hostile media landscape that continues to deepen wounds carved by persistent racism in our society. I am deeply sorry,” she continued.
Some have called for Baldasare to step down and the Department of Education (DOE) is investigating the incident.
“These serious reports are being investigated, and we’re working with the school community to create a schoolwide diversity board and ensure these concerns are swiftly addressed,” said Douglas Cohen, a spokesperson for DOE. “Schools must be inclusive environments that are welcoming of all students, staff and families.”