What follows is an online — and therefore, public — survey on whether one should use “N-gga” or “N-gger” when addressing a “dark person.” The informal survey was conducted by white students who attend The First Academy in Orlando, FL.
According to their website, The First Academy is a Christ-centered, college preparatory school whose mission is to prepare children for life as Christian leaders.
In response to the online backlash, the First Academy did what many a white person accused of racism has done: they rolled out their black friend to address the issue.
Bishop Allen Wiggins of the Hope Church of Orlando is a sitting board member of the First Academy. In a blog post on the academy’s website, Wiggins states:
The school has taken appropriate disciplinary action and they continue to hold my complete trust as an institution. This incident provides a teachable moment for each of us as parents. It is my understanding, that when confronted the students were humble, remorseful and apologetic… As a school we will not allow racism and we will embrace one another in love.
The problem with this statement, according to a series of messages from former African-American students released by Shaun King of the New York Daily News, is that this incident is not a “one-off” situation.
— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) August 25, 2016
“The Racism in the school is deeply rooted in the athletic programs…I was an athlete at the school and saw a lot of things that me have to accept the harsh realities of life in the south.”
As with any other form of bigotry, it is often learned. And while it may not come through express lessons, it is often the ignored and subtle racism that becomes the greatest instructor.
In a statement from the head of the First Academy, Dr. Steve Whitaker stated:
TFA is appalled by such inappropriate comments posted by some of our students. TFA does not condone or support this conduct, and will not tolerate this type of behavior. We have taken, and are taking, deliberate steps to address this issue. As we reflect on this situation, we have realized there is much work to do in the area of racial reconciliation that we must take ownership of. Have we done enough? The answer is no.
If the racial problems are as deeply rooted as outlined by their former students, it appears that Dr. Whitaker and the entire staff First Academy have a long way to go to fixing the divide. But, perhaps, this incident will serve as a first step.