Black Students Say Appearance 'Fetishized' by Teachers Who 'Pet' Hair, School Outed on Instagram

Administrators of a private Stamford, Connecticut, school apologized to Black students and alumni after an Instagram account surfaced dozens of allegations of teachers "fetishizing" African-Americans and urging many not to apply to prestigious colleges.

An anonymous Instagram account, @BlackAtKing, posted anecdotes and testimonials from Black students at the King School that named specific staff members who'd allegedly made "racist" and sexualized remarks for years. The account began posting detailed claims of anti-Black stereotyping, dress code double standards and instances of white teachers "petting" Black girls' hair in front of classmates back in June 2020. The posts sparked an investigation at the school and an apology issued to the Black community this week.

"[D]uring my time at King it was very obvious that black girls at the school were fetishized by certain white male classmates," reads one anonymous alumni post from last June.

"One time Mr. C***** made a comment about how black girls hate having their hair touched. As a black girl who truly couldn't care less (as long as the person asked) I was bothered when he chose to come up to my seat and say, 'Guys she's gonna get so mad, don't touch her hair' and my fellow classmates laughed, 'omg what would you do if I touched your hair right now?' reads a June 2020 Instagram post by the Black at King account.

A November 2020 post named two staff members and includes their faculty directory photos. The 11th Grade world languages teacher is accused of being "completely obsessed with policing Black women's bodies." A June post about the same faculty member accused her of punishing students for anti-Jewish remarks, but ignoring when white students would "pet" Black students' hair or mock dreadlocks.

King School officials have declined to respond to any specific posts about teachers or guidance counselors, but earlier this month they sent a letter to the Stamford community that apologized for "eye-opening and heartbreaking testimonies" from the unnamed students in the social media posts. The school also announced new community engagement and culture inclusiveness initiatives.

"We deeply regret and apologize for the pain suffered by anyone within our walls," the letter read, noting that the incidents highlighted by "Black at King" are "not isolated events."

The Stamford Advocate reported Monday that officials from the K-12 school hired a law firm last summer to investigate the accusations made in the anonymous Instagram account. One of those initial moves was to start a "diversity, equity and inclusion" task force following the May 25, 2020, death of George Floyd.

Several of the "Black at King" posts accused specific athletic directors and physical education teachers of sexist behavior and so-called micro-aggressions toward female student-athletes. "I always felt bad for the lax girls and volleyball girls bc he TORCHEREd [sic] those girls especially, so creepy," reads a September 2020 post that includes the faculty members' contact information and photograph.

"In 8th grade my advisor said I wasn't smart enough for King and I should find another school. I had been at King for 9 years," reads another June 2020 post.

Multiple Instagram accounts emerged last summer that sought to expose daily instances of casual racism, double standards and "creepy" behavior from white students at several prestigious prep and private schools in the tri-state area.

One such account, "BlackAtPingry," claimed students at the elite north New Jersey preparatory school regularly referred to COVID-19 as the "China virus" and nicknamed an end-of-year fundraiser, "Senior Slave Day."

The Black at King Instagram account has responded this week to news outlets sharing the stories of systemic racism by demanding that the called-out faculty members either resign or face removal.

Newsweek reached out to the school for additional responses but the district has instead pointed to their ongoing cultural initiatives. "In addition to revising our curriculum, we are working to make our classroom libraries more diverse and culturally responsive," reads the school's most recent statement.

Black Teachers Think More Highly of Black Students
Black students used an Instagram account to detail how their appearance was "fetishized" at the private King School in Connecticut, which this week issued an apology. Sean Gallup/Getty