The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston has issued an apology after a staff member reportedly told a group of Black students “no food, no drink and no watermelon” during a field trip.
“Last week, a number of students on an organized visit encountered a range of challenging and unacceptable experiences that made them feel unwelcome,” the MFA said in a open letter posted on its website.
The statement did not mention race or racism but did say, “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.”
Arturo J. Forrest, the principal of the Helen Y. Davis Leadership Academy, told the Boston Globe that about 30 students attended the visit Thursday and that a school staff member relayed the reference to watermelon, a racist trope.
Forrest also said a visitor to the museum remarked that a student should pay attention to avoid a career as a stripper, and another guest referred to the students as “(expletive) black kids,” the Globe reported.
More than 90% of the students at the middle school are black or Latino, according to the Globe. The group that attended the field trip is in seventh grade.
English teacher Marvelyne Lamy told the Globe that students informed her about the museum staff member’s racist comment and that museum staff closely followed the group throughout the tour.
“It got so bad that I started gathering our students so we could leave,” Lamy said in Facebook post. “The worst part about all of this is seeing the hurt look on my children’s faces as this was their first time experiencing racism first hand.”
We hope those staff members have been disciplined appropriately (read: fired) in addition to this apology.