Two students at Shoreham-Wading River High School are being disciplined after a viral video of them was released using racial slurs directed at a black man.
The video comes from a site called Omegle – where users are randomly matched for a video chat – then shared on TikTok and Twitter.
The students were identified by a user on TikTok as students of SWR, and users began sharing contact details for high school principal Frank Pugliese.
School principal Gerard Poole acknowledged the video in a letter to the community on Thursday, saying the district was informed late Wednesday evening of the “inappropriate and racist video”.
Mr Poole said the district does not comment on individual student disciplinary matters, but assured the community that “the matter will be dealt with directly with the parties involved and that disciplinary action will be dealt with in accordance with our code of conduct.” .
He called the content of the video “objectionable and in flagrant violation of the core values of our school district.”
At least one student in the video has since apologized to the man who suffered racist slurs, Jovan Bradley. On Twitter on Friday, Mr Bradley said a relative of one of the boys contacted him and started a dialogue. Although he said he was not going to share what the boy wrote in his apology, he posted a response which he sent to both the boy and his parents.
He thanked the boy for his apologies and encouraged him to listen to people of color and their experiences with racist words.
“I sincerely hope you see the fault in what you have done on a human level,” he wrote. “I hope you can stand up for people who are different from you from now on. I worry about young children who may not have the same mental toughness as I am and who may have been subjected to your words.
Reached via Twitter, Mr Bradley said Thursday evening that he was concerned about the hatred the boys received from social media users after seeing the video. In a follow-up video released Thursday, Mr Bradley, who identifies as half black and half white, urged people to stop contacting an Instagram user with the same one of the boys, stressing how the rush to condemn an online action can unfold quickly. askew.
“He’s not the guy,” he said in the video.
Mr. Bradley did not respond to a request for an additional interview.
An excerpt from the video posted on TikTok has been viewed over 400,000 times and generated over 8,900 comments. An unedited version was removed by TikTok and Mr. Bradley reposted it with the insults issued. In the Omegle video, Mr. Bradley and the boys are seen exchanging greetings as their screens go online. A boy then uses a racial insult.
“Why?” Mr. Bradley replies several times.
Later in the video, they refer to him as a slave and make a movement as if they are using a whip. The boys then signed on, ending the interaction after 38 seconds.
He first posted the video on Tuesday.
In a note to parents of one boy, Mr Bradley wrote that he hopes they can use it as a learning time. He offered to share his life experiences as a resource if they wished.
“Just to recognize what he has done and to reach out and reach out says a lot and really means a lot and I hope you will believe those words,” he said. “I know it can be difficult to see your child in this situation, but if it even helps a person to defend themselves or to learn, I think the good can still come.”
The incident comes just over five months after a sports scholarship for a high school student at Riverhead High School was revoked and an admission to Marquette University after a racist post on Snapchat was widely circulated . The student, who graduated in June, has since developed a program called Beyond the Huddle, where she runs workshops for young athletes to share her experience as a learning tool and focus on ” develop awareness and empathy while teaching good decision-making skills ”.
Mr. Poole wrote in the letter to the community that the district is “rooted in strong teachings of tolerance, acceptance and the importance of embracing diversity”. He noted that in recent years, students and staff have lobbied to “cultivate a sense of unity and inclusion in our school community and among all the diverse student groups that make up our amazing district.”
The number of students enrolled in the district is 87% white, according to 2018-19 data released by the New York State Department of Education, the most recent available. Black students make up only 1% of the student body. Hispanics or Latinos make up 8% of the student body.
Mr Poole said that students’ experiences in the program are “designed to strengthen and educate students to understand global issues related to tolerance, civil rights and community.”
He added, “It is for these reasons, and many more, that the social media video has been the most disturbing for us as a school district.”
Omegle is not a new platform, launched in 2009. But its popularity has increased during the pandemic as people remain isolated at home, the New York Times recently reported.
Its resurgence has been “especially with teens who feel alienated by months of distance learning and limited face-to-face socialization,” the Times article said.
Mr Poole urged parents to involve their children in how to protect themselves online as well as how “a person’s words and actions have consequences, whether they are intentional or not.”