JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Students and alumni of schools across Jacksonville and the country are anonymously posting about experiences of racism. The social media accounts are usually operating under the name “Black at ____.” But now accounts boasting “White at ____” are popping up, too.
One account labeled “White at Providence,” which linked back to the Providence School of Jacksonville website, posted derogatory messages. The private Christian school is condemning the posts and launching an investigation to figure out who’s behind the account.
The Instagram account was created in reaction to a growing trend across the nation: anonymous accounts posting stories of racism experienced inside America’s elite schools. Accounts have been created for private schools and magnet schools in Jacksonville and have drawn reaction from administrators saying they will do better.
“But I think it gave the faculty and staff at Providence the opportunity to examine themselves,” said Ken Jefferson, a board member at Providence.
But “White at Providence” is drawing a different reaction.
The account, which has since been deleted from Instagram, posted a photo of George Floyd, calling him the N-word.
Providence on Tuesday issued the following response:
“Providence School Administration has recently become aware of an offensive social media account and social media posts that are not affiliated with Providence School. As we were made aware of this account, we took action and immediately reported it to Instagram as inappropriate. This offensive account contains posts that are clearly not reflective of the Christian values that Providence strives to foster in our students. As we investigate specific offensive accounts, we will take the appropriate actions following our code of conduct. Praying for peace and understanding as we continue to offer a Boldly Christian education and environment for our students and faculty.”
Jefferson, who is also News4Jax’s crime and safety expert, said he was disgusted after viewing the posts.
“When I saw the post filled with hatred, spewing out all kinds of inflammatory things, too, they weren’t just expressing their opinions on their experiences, they were degrading another race and that’s what they did,” Jefferson said. “We are definitely looking into to find out who did it. If it’s a student, that person will be dealt with. If it’s a person affiliated with Providence, that person will be dealt with, as well.”
There is also a “Black at Providence” social media account. When asked how the school is going to handle the dozens of stories posted on that account, Jefferson said he hopes people who posted will come forward, share their names and share the stories with the administration.
He believes it will help the relationship between faculty and students going forward.