Racially-charged photos circulate of former Rochester students

Five years ago, former Rochester Public Schools students took racially charged photographs wearing black clothing and black paint on their bodies and faces. We're finding out the photos are circulating again on social media and how alumni just want to see change in their district.

Posted: Jun 23, 2020 11:18 PM
Updated: Jun 24, 2020 6:36 AM

ROCHESTER, Minn. - Insensitive. Hurtful. Further perpetuating systemic racism. That's how Rochester Public Schools describe images circulating on Facebook of students wearing black clothing and black paint. The District reports it started an investigation around the images.

"I just was wondering how it even passed by the school and how more people weren't angered, confused, disgusted, because a lot of people were hyping them up and telling them oh it's so cool rather than telling them it's terribly wrong," Muntaas Farah, an alumnus of Mayo High School said.

Two years ago - a photograph of students wearing blackface and Ku Klux Klan outfits circulated. The District confirmed at least two people in the photo attended John Marshall High School. Muntaas Farah graduated from Mayo High School and is Somali-American.

"You feel invisible, I feel like even though there are high populations especially at Mayo of people of color, you feel like your voices aren't heard," Farah said. "People, they don't take you seriously."

Her experience is like Samia Abdi's - a black Somali-American who also graduated from the school.

"There was a lot of racial incidents that happened at our school specifically," Abdi said. "Administration at the school, I remember I one time I brought up to I think he's now the principal at mayo, we brought up that students were calling us the n word and racial slurs and he reacted by saying: Oh black students say the n-word all the time."

Farah and Abdi believe it's time for a change.

"Although the community is diverse, it's very segregated," Farah said. "I feel like people stick to the people they know because they don't want to continuously have the same conversations with people that go nowhere."

KIMT News 3 reached out to Rochester Public Schools and the principal at Mayo High School for a statement. They say in part: "Unfortunately the District is not able to respond to inquiries regarding current or former students or personnel matters."

Here is a link to RPS' full statement.

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