NJIT's Student Newspaper

The Vector

NJIT's Student Newspaper

The Vector

NJIT's Student Newspaper

The Vector

Newark Magnet School Faces Racial Tensions 


Amongst numerous controversies assailing the Newark School Board, incidents of racial tension between Black and Latinx students have added fuel to the fire raging in the city’s school districts.  

The Newark School of Global Studies is a four-year public magnet school located in Newark’s Central Ward neighborhood, which is only a 10-minute walk from NJIT. A magnet school specializes in a specific subject area and is one that every student in the school district can apply to. Factors which determine admission include a grade point average, recommendation letters, and a required essay, making it one of Newark’s most competitive high schools. 

This Newark school opened in 2020 with 114 incoming ninth graders, aiming to facilitate an immersive experience in diplomacy, fluency in a second language, and an introduction to the field of international relations. Students can study diplomacy, learn Arabic, or take economics classes while learning about Chinese languages and culture.  

According to 2021 census estimates, Newark’s population is 46.8% Black and 36.8% Latinx. However, the Central Ward’s population is 64% Latinx and 31.6% Black, and the school’s population is 70% Latinx and around 26% Black. Starting in the later months of 2022, racial tensions began to simmer; numerous Black students reported facing harassment, discrimination, and racial slurs from their peers.  

At a November 2022 Newark Board of Education meeting, Terril Coley, a former student at the school, detailed the bullying and insults that he faced. “I was called a ‘smart chimpanzee’ in my English class,” he said. The former president of the school’s Black Student Union, David Allen, does not believe that enough action is being taken against such harassment.  

He explained that he and other students had been called “the n-word, a monkey, a slave, a caricature.” Allen’s best friend and the daughter of Newark School Board president Dawn Haynes is a Muslim student who previously attended the school; during her time there, she was called a terrorist and a racial slur. After a physical altercation with a Latinx classmate, she transferred out of the School for Global Studies. 

On Feb. 15, Haynes and other officials, along with Newark mayor Ras Baraka, hosted a town hall-style event called “Black and Latino Unity Through Education,” which aimed to address the conflict, featuring speeches from students, faculty, and community members. Newark National Association for the Advancement of Colored People president Deborah Smith Gregory called for mandatory sensitivity training, occurring more than once a year. “This Latin[x]-Black thing that is trying to be generated and created is a narrative that we in this city cannot [and] will not afford,” she asserted.  

Students shared their opinions on the situation; Samiyah Dunham, a current student at the school, asked, “How would you feel every morning if you wake up and remember that you’re going to a place that doesn’t want you there?” Allegations flew from all sides, including a statement by Allen accusing superintendent Roger Léon and school officials of trying to bribe students into staying silent by throwing a pizza party two days after a Black Student Union meeting in which students shared concerns about the treatment of Black students in the School for Global Studies.  

“You should feel ashamed by the fact that you’ve exploited these children and allowed their oppressors to get away with inflicting abuse on them completely unscathed,” said Allen. While several community members expressed sympathy with the students, Léon apologized and promised to use student input to improve the school environment.  

“At the end of the day, this city is a Black and brown city,” Haynes concluded, asking for a greater sense of unity. 

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Mrunmayi Joshi, Managing Editor
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