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A catholic school in Long Island, N.Y. found itself the center of controversy after an incident involving a white headmaster and a Black student. Headmaster John Holian of St. Martin de Porres Marianist school told the boy to kneel and apologize, saying to him that it was the Nigerian way to do so.
The New York Daily News broke the story last weekend involving the 11-year-old boy and the headmaster, after the boy’s mother, Trisha Paul, explained the situation to the outlet. The student was reportedly observed doing an incorrect assignment in English class and was then sent to the headmaster for discipline.
Holian claims he learned of the kneeling apology from a Nigerian father, but that didn’t sit right with the boy’s mother.
“Once he started mentioning this African family, that’s when it just clicked,” Paul said. “Like, this is not normal procedure. I felt there was no relevance at all. Is he generalizing that everyone who is Black is African? That’s when I realized something is not right with this situation.”
The incident took place on Feb. 25 of this year and Paul says that her son, who is normally an active and outgoing middle-schooler, has retreated within and hasn’t been himself since.
“My son was humiliated, hurt, embarrassed, sad and confused,” Paul added in continuing comment to the outlet. “He reads about things happening because of your skin color. To experience it… he’s just trying to process it in his 11-year-old brain.”
Holian has since been placed on temporary leave from his post at St. Martin de Porres Marianist while the school investigates the matter.
The Daily News added in its reporting that attendance at St. Martin costs parents around $15,000 annually.
Photo: Theodore Parisienne