GOSHEN – N’Senga Kinzonzi, the Minisink Valley High School sophomore who was the target of a classmate’s racial slur on social media, Thursday, said she was quite upset by the post that called her a N***** and said she should be lynched.
She spoke publicly wiping away tears as she talked about her feelings.
“I was shocked and saddened,” she said.
Kinzonzi said she explained the history of African Americans, their plight and the racial overtones of his comments. She said he was not aware of their meaning.
She initially didn’t tell her parents, but rather her college student brother, Caleb, who took the case to social media. The school district said it handled the situation internally, but N’Senga’s family and civil rights attorney Michael Sussman say that is not enough.
N’Senga’s three siblings, all of whom either attended or attend Minisink schools, told their own stories of being bullied or the brunt of racist comments or caricatures.
Sussman said the school district must conduct sensitivity programs and ask “how do we make this a teachable moment?” He said the district needs diversity among its teaching staff, something noted when all four Kinzonzi children said all through their Minisink Valley school years, they had not one non-white teacher.
“The community has had enough of this kind of behavior,” Sussman said. “Whether it is the desecration of a Jewish cemetery, whether it’s anti-Palestinian comments in Monroe-Woodbury, whether it’s this event; whatever the event. We as a community have had too many of these events in our midst. So, the time to really seek institutional solutions and realize the educational system is not properly serving us because this keeps on happening.”
Rev. Wendy Paige said the incident against Kinzonzi is ‘not isolated” and she called it a hate crime.
Sussman said he has “not yet” filed a lawsuit, but rather they are seeking to have the district to take responsibility by providing a diverse education to their students.
A statement posted by Minisink Superintendent Brian Monahan following the December 21 incident and still on the front page of the district website, says “The district has no tolerance for hateful language or any type of conduct that endangers the physical or emotional sense of safety and security of our students and staff.”