White Headmaster Forces 11-Year-Old Black Student To Kneel During Apology, Calls It ‘The African Way’ — WTF?!
A white Catholic school headmaster on Long Island is under fire right now after he apparently forced an 11-year-old Black student to kneel down in order to apologize to a teacher, calling it the “African way” to say sorry.
John Holian, the headmaster at St. Martin de Porres Marianist School in the city of Uniondale, is the man named in the complaint, according to the sixth-grade boy’s mother, Trisha Paul.
Per the New York Daily News, which first reported the incident, the punishment came about after Trisha’s 11-year-old son started working on the wrong assignment in class, and was admonished by his English teacher, who took him to the headmaster’s office.
Holian, who is white, apparently believed that forcing the Black student to kneel while apologizing was a just punishment for the assignment mix-up. The student’s mom, whose Haitian-American family lives in nearby Hempstead, claims Holian told her the kneeling approach was right for an apology because he learned it from a Nigerian father who said it was “the African way” of saying you’re sorry.
Haiti is not part of Africa, of course. And there are thousands of unique groups of people and dozens of sovereign countries within Africa, anyways, suggesting there is no one continental way to apologize. Not all African people have the same customs and traditions!!! But Holian ran with it, anyway, forcing the boy to kneel because he’d heard one thing one time from one African person.
For her part, Trisha was taken aback by the incident when it was explained to her. She told the Daily News (below):
“I asked the headmaster how the story was relevant … Once he started mentioning this African family, that’s when it just clicked. Like, this is not normal procedure. I felt there was no relevance at all. Is he generalizing that everyone who is Black is African? That’s when I realized something is not right with this situation.”
No kidding! The encounter, which reportedly took place back in February, has left her normally-outgoing middle school son “really reserved” and “humiliated.” His mom reported:
“My son was humiliated, hurt, embarrassed, sad and confused. He reads about things happening because of your skin color. To experience it… he’s just trying to process it in his 11-year-old brain.”
We can’t even imagine! Holian declined to comment on the specifics of the complaint, saying only that “we love our students here” and noting how “a vast majority” are students of color.
But in a March 4 meeting with the mother, which was recorded, Holian gave more insight into exactly what he thought about the supposed Nigerian kneeling practice. During that encounter, he explained:
“This [Nigerian] father came in and said, ‘you’re going to apologize to this teacher the African way, and you’re going to get down on your knees and apologize.’ I’ve never seen that before. I have six kids, and four boys. And if one of them is really acting rude and arrogant… I will say at times, ‘get on your knees and apologize.’ I was speaking to your son as I would my own son. I’m sorry if you’re upset. It wasn’t a thought-out situation.”
Boy, now we just feel sorry for Holian’s own children, too.
On Friday, school officials sent an email to parents confirming that Holian had been placed on temporary leave while the school investigates. The new acting headmaster of the $15,000-a-year Catholic school, James Conway, wrote in the email (below):
“I want to assure you that St. Martin’s neither condones nor accepts the actions of our headmaster. The incident does not reflect our long, established values or the established protocols regarding student related issues.”
Right… You can watch more about the entire ordeal in this ABC7NY news segment from Sunday (below):
Wow! What do U make of this bizarre and completely unnecessary punishment, Perezcious readers? Should Holian step down for good because of this?? Sound OFF with your take on this behavior down in the comments (below)…
[Image via Eyewitness News ABC7NY/YouTube]