Oregon's Newberg High School found themselves under investigation by the Newberg School District after a Snapchat called "Slave Trade"—featuring at least one Newberg High School student—was exposed.
The racist chat first gained attention after screenshots were shared on social media by a student at Newberg High School.
The incident was reported by Portland's KGW News.
The chat was filled with racist and homophobic statements, including "They like picking cotton" and "all Blacks should die let's have another Holocaust."
Newberg High School Principal Tami Erion commented on the matter in a letter sent out to parents and school staff, confirming a student's involvement in the chat.
"We are deeply dismayed that this behavior and activity was exhibited by someone from our community."
"We condemn actions such as these which represent the antithesis of what we believe and where we stand as a Newberg Nation family."
"Newberg High School is committed to ensuring that ALL students are afforded a safe learning environment by prohibiting harassment based upon gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, religion or disability."
Eiron already had her hands full before the Snapchat became public, as Newberg High school previously made headlines after a controversial vote by the school board to ban all "political symbols" from the school campus.
Among the banned "political symbols" included in the 4-3 vote were Black Lives Matter signs and Pride flags.Oregon House Majority Leader and Education House Committee Chair, Representative Barbara Smith Warner, and chair of the Oregon House Education Committee, Representative Teresa Alonso Leon, released a joint statement on the matter, condemning the group chat, as well as the board's decision to ban "political symbols" from the school.
"Incidents like this are exactly what make Black students feel like their lives don't matter."
"As House Majority Leader and Chair of the House Education Committee, we stand with you and affirm that Black Lives Matter and Black Students' Lives Matter."
"Once again, we urge the board to do what is right and rescind the ban on Black Lives Matter and Pride signs, and refocus on creating a safe, welcoming environment for students."
Several others took to Twitter to express their disgust regarding the Snapchat, with many stating the school board's decision to ban Black Lives Matter signs and Pride flags made them complicit in the matter.
Anger and confusion were expressed by parents at a Newberg School Board meeting on Tuesday night, with Tai Harden-Moore claiming the fact any student was comfortable joining in on this group chat only proved this is an ongoing issue that stems from the top.
"The fact that a student in our community felt comfortable enough to take part in such a disgusting behavior is a clear illustration of the racism and discrimination that plagues this community."
Another Newberg High School parent, Heidi Pender—a White mother of a Black daughter—published a letter about the incident on her Facebook page.
"I know the students involved in the online slave trade do not represent all of Newberg students. But it makes me weep to ever think about someone putting a photo of my precious daughter up on something so abhorrent."
"It makes my heart break to see the faces of the young people who WERE put up in that group chat. And please do not ever tell me again that racism isn't alive and well in our country."
Pender also voiced her disapproval of the board's decision to ban "Black Lives Matter" signs from the school, saying a reminder that anyone's life mattered is not "political."
"It's not political to tell a Newberg student who is black, 'Your life matters!'"
"It's just acknowledging that you understand racism is real, that they've experienced the message they are less than because of their beautiful brown skin, that you recognize they don't always feel safe as a black person in our town."
Pender sat down for an interview with KGW News.
She emphasized how "confusing" the school's decision to ban "Black Lives Matter" signs and Pride flags was for many Newberg High School students, particularly in the wake of this incident.
"For my daughter, who is Black, it's confusing for her why people would be against saying her life mattered."
"For her to have adults who are in charge of her school district say 'teachers are not allowed to tell you your life matters' is a very confusing and a very hurtful message for her."
Shockingly, this was the third reported case of high school students having mock, online slave auctions on Snapchat, as two similar instances occurred in Fort Worth, Texas and Traverse City, Michigan earlier this year.
Principal Erion did not disclose any possible reprimands or consequences for the student who participated in the group chat, citing the "ongoing investigation."
She did, however, confirm she and the school board were "following board policy as it relates to harassment, bullying and potential disciplinary actions."