Boston museum apologizes after being accused of racially profiling middle school students

Boston museum apologizes after being accused of racially profiling middle school students

Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts issued an apology after a teacher said her middle school students were subjected to racism during a school field trip. 

Marvelyne Lamy, who took her seventh graders from the Helen Y. Davis Leadership Academy to the museum last week, said the 26 students who attended — all of whom are black or Latino — were racially profiled by museum employees and received offensive comments from other visitors.

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“At the very beginning of the tour, one of the staff gave an overview on what to expect and told the kids no food, no drink, and no watermelon," Lamy wrote on Facebook on Monday. “Throughout our walk through, they followed us. Many of our students grew agitated. At the end, we went through the gender bending exhibit where the security guard followed our every movement."

“We were instructed not to touch any of the artifacts in the museum, yet the white students there touched the displays several times while security looked on without saying anything," she added.

Lamy wrote that she became fed up and left with her students after a visitor made a comment toward one of her students who was dancing to music in the exhibit. Lamy said the visitor told her: “It’s a shame that she is not learning and instead stripping.”

“That’s when I had it,” Lamy said. “I told them we are leaving right now.”

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On Wednesday, the museum posted an open letter on its website, apologizing for the “challenging and unacceptable experiences” that the school’s students, teachers and chaperones encountered. 

“We deeply regret any interactions that led to this outcome and are committed to being a place where all people trust that they will feel safe and treated with respect,” the letter said. “We look forward to ongoing conversation and commit to using this situation as an opportunity to learn and create a culture of unwavering inclusion.” 

An internal investigation is underway, but museum officials reiterated that “our intention is to set the highest of standards, and we are committed to doing the work that it will take to get there.”