Student's Online Comment About 'Auctioning Off Black Classmates' Sparks Investigation

An Oregon school district has opened an investigation into a student's online comments about "auctioning off Black classmates."

According to KOIN news in Oregon, a student at the Newberg High School recently posted photos online, showing a classmate's involvement in the Snapchat group that was named "Slave Trade." KOIN news reported that photos shared by the concerned student showed that the other student posted racist and homophobic slurs in the Snapchat group, as well as discussing the idea of "auctioning off Black classmates."

Following the posts by the concerned student, Newberg High School Principal Tami Erion sent a statement to community members that was provided to Newsweek.

"Newberg High School became aware of a very serious and inappropriate incident on social media in which one of our students took part in a snapchat group termed "slave trade" and used photos of other Newberg High School students in the group," Erion said in the statement. "Attached to the photos were derogatory comments that included racial and homophobic slurs.

"This chat originated in Michigan in late 2020, but our administrative team was just made aware of the group and our student's participation late Friday. While the investigation is still ongoing and we cannot comment on the specifics, we want to reassure our community that as we always do, we are following board policy as it relates to harassment, bullying and potential disciplinary actions."

Erion went on to say in the statement that the high school is "deeply dismayed that this behavior and activity was exhibited by someone from our community," while adding that the school district condemns the actions.

"As a community, we continue to grapple with issues of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging...We are committed to confronting and following through with disciplinary consequences for incidents of harassment and bullying for the safety and well being of all students at Newberg High School," the statement added.

According to KOIN News, Oregon House Majority Leader and Education House Committee Chair Barbara Smith Warner, issued a statement shortly after learning of the incident, sayng, "Incidents like this are exactly what make Black students feel like their lives don't matter. As House Majority Leader and Chair of the House Education Committee, we stand with you and affirm that Black Lives Matter and Black Students' Lives Matter.

"The slave trade was the genesis of centuries of genocide and violence against Black communities, displacing, enslaving and harming millions of families. If we are to heal as a state and as a country, then we must understand our history and how violence has been used to oppress BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities to this day," Warner's statement added, according to KOIN news.

Newsweek reached out to Warner for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.

In addition to the investigation announced by Erion, several parents in the Newberg community recently spoke out against the student's actions during a board meeting.

"The fact that a student in our community felt comfortable enough to take part in such a disgusting behavior is a clear illustration of the racism and discrimination that plagues this community," parent Tai Harden-Moore said, according to KOIN News.

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An Oregon school district has opened an investigation into a student's online comments about "auctioning off Black classmates." Above, an empty classroom is seen at Hollywood High School on August 13, 2020, in Hollywood, California. Rodin Eckenroth/Getty