Members of a small New York community are furious at their local school for sharing a painfully tone-deaf social media post in which a dirty snowman was praised for its "diversity."
The Coxsackie-Athens Central School District posted an image on Tuesday of three elementary-aged students proudly standing behind a snowman they had built, local radio station WRRV reported. In the photo, the snowman has been constructed with three large mounds of snow with what appears to be quite a bit of dirt mixed in.
"Today's CE Fourth Grade Playground Fun," Coxsackie-Athens Central School District posted on its Facebook page, seemingly referring to Coxsackie Elementary School. "This snowman is just as diverse as our students!"
Community members immediately questioned the caption the district paired with the photo.
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"I would like for Coxsackie-Athens Central School Districts to explain the meaning of this post?" a Facebook user from Hudson, New York, wrote.
"I literally hate Coxsackie so so much. Lol embarrassing a** town," another Facebook user posted. "Like it's really so so simple to just not speak sometimes."
A Coxsackie resident's post about the ordeal received over 150 comments and more than 150 shares by Wednesday afternoon.
According to WRRV, many people of color were upset that they were being compared to dirty snow, calling the post "dehumanizing."
In a statement posted to the district's website Tuesday, Superintendent Randy Squier wrote, "Today, a post was uploaded to our Facebook page that has since been deleted... The word 'diverse' was used to describe how every kid can make a snowman differently and this variety of creativity should be celebrated. When it was commented that this post could be interpreted about race the post was taken down. We want to apologize and reiterate it was never intended to be hurtful."
"Families of the students in the picture have already been contacted personally," Squier continued. "We will use this as an opportunity to review our social media policies and procedures and continue our commitment to providing a learning environment where every person feels that they belong."
Screenshots of the post continued to float around on social media even after it was deleted.
"Gonna keep commenting on posts so you can keep deleting them," a Coxsackie-Athens alumnus wrote on the district's Facebook page along with the photo of the snowman.
"I'm going to leave this here since Coxsackie-Athens Central School District decided to delete this post after getting some backlash," a Facebook user posted on her page.
"This is where language and white privilege collide… smh," someone replied. "I'm sure it was said with innocent intentions from someone who lacks education on diversity, lacks socially acceptable humor and clearly needs a reality check."
Squier told The Daily Beast that the district employee wasn't intentionally making a comment about race.
"We're very sorry that that was taken that way and, you know, it was never intended to be hurtful," Squier said. "The person who initiated the post is, in all honesty, like mortified because that was not the intent."
The superintendent also said that the district would use the ordeal as a learning opportunity.
"We're going to review our policies and how we post on social media and our procedures and, and just continue to work towards being a place...where every every kid and every adult feels that they belong," he said.
Squier also suggested that if anyone in the community still has concerns over the post, they should contact the district to discuss it.
"We're going to learn from it and move forward and continue to be conscious of how things are said or posted in this regard."
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