Story contains images some people may find disturbing
Footage has emerged of students from an elite Adelaide private school appearing to lynch a Black baby doll with their school hat cords.
The Trinity College students were given white and Black dolls for a parenting assignment.
Trinity College headmaster Nick Hately confirmed the video’s validity in a statement to HuffPost Australia.
“Students involved in the initial incident wanted to reiterate that they did not act with racist intent,” he said.
“Some further acknowledge that now, with greater education, they understand why their actions are considered racist. They understand how appalling, unthinking behaviour stemming from ignorance can be racism. Not having a racist intent does not mean the impact is not racist,” Hately said.
The Adelaide Advertiser reports seven students were given some form of suspension after the incident last week.
A white doll was also mistreated.
An African-Australian Grade 12 student complained about the video to the student leadership committee and has created a change.org petition calling for “a safe space for minorities at Trinity College”.
The student, who requested not to be named, told HuffPost the petition earned her a bullying warning from the school because some peers said it would “embarrass” the school.
“The school dismissed it and said the girls who posted the video were being just being ‘silly’,” the student told HuffPost via phone.
The student and two other African-Australian students, including the school captain, have walked away from their student leadership positions in protest.
The student added: “I felt betrayed. I have been complaining about racist incidents for four years at the school.”
Trinity College said in its statement: “We support all students and their activism and any suggestion that we have tried to silence students is inaccurate.”
Lawyer and human rights activist Nyadol Nyuon commended the Black students who spoke out, but told HuffPost more education is needed.
“I am really proud of them. Schools need to take [racism] seriously,” she said.
“While lynching a Black baby may be ‘silly’ for white students, for Black students it is a symbol of historical injustice.”
HuffPost understands the school plans to address the concerns with cultural training and urged the three Black students to stay in their leadership roles to “raise awareness”.
“We always have to be the ones to ‘raise awareness’. I feel terrible that I have to keep fighting for it,” one student said.
The school is understood to be working to hire a South-Sudanese liaison officer and has met with students to discuss next steps.
Renee Romeo, a former youth worker in Adelaide, said racist actions, unknowingly or not, are common in schools.
“This isn’t just Trinity College,” she told HuffPost. “There is a culture of racism running rampant in these schools.”
A 2019 study by the Australian National University found one-third of students at NSW and Victorian government schools have experienced racial discrimination from their peers.
Romeo said structural change was needed: “The training is inadequate when things like this happen. It continues the same narrative that we have to understand other cultures, which causes othering and informs stereotypes about these cultures that already exist,” she said.