Racist Halloween decorations spark outrage in Clinton Hill
Halloween decorations depicting what appeared to be black children hanging from nooses were seen this week in the window of a Clinton Hill home.
The decorations — which have since been removed — were displayed in the window of a home belonging to ArtShack Brooklyn co-owner Dany Rose, across the street from P.S. 11. The imagery consisted of four people made of brown cardboard, two of them with nooses around their necks and another hanging upside-down with a rope tied to their leg.
A picture of the decorations posted to Facebook by a P.S. 11 parent has since gone viral, and was first reported by New York Amsterdam News. In her post, the local mother says she first noticed the offensive decorations when she went to pick her kids up from school on Tuesday.
While her children’s school addressed the situation immediately, the parent said, it was already too late.
“To have the kids question why are the kids in the window hanging from rope infuriated me,” the post read. “Never would I have thought they would be exposed to Racism at 4 Years old in their own Community!!”
Rose has since posted an apology on social media, in which she says she “made a tremendous mistake.”
“I now realize the harm and hurt caused by the unacceptable imagery I used in my Halloween decorations at my home and understand how it connects to the centuries of historical trauma in this country. Please trust that I will take the time to educate myself and my family and will do everything in my power to make amends,” a post on ArtShack’s Instagram page posted Wednesday read.
“I hope this incident does not take away from all the hardworking, respected members of the Artshack community, and the work that we do for our community. I am deeply sorry.”
View this post on Instagram
Dear Community, This is Dany Rose, a co-founder of the nonprofit ceramic studio ArtShack in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. I recently displayed some homemade Halloween paper dolls in the window of my home. The images were based on the horror movie Annabelle, but because they were made of brown kraft paper and hanging from nooses, they were deeply racially offensive. No one should have had to point out this obvious fact to me, and I immediately removed the figures when I was contacted by a parent from P.S.11, across the street from my home. I understand that ignorance is no excuse and apologies are not enough, but nonetheless I want to apologize sincerely to my neighbors and community. I would like to clarify that the figures were displayed in my home and not in ArtShack’s windows. ArtShack is a nonprofit organization that provides free and subsidized classes to children, adults, seniors, people with disabilities, and local schools. Please do not punish this wonderful organization because of my personal failings. Right now I am exploring ways in which I can make amends that will be both meaningful and acceptable to the community. I have already met with local leaders, including P.S. 11 teachers and administrators, and I hope to meet with other local leaders to identify the best way forward to promote racial justice and to use my example of white privilege as a teaching moment. You may not believe that I have an open mind, but please believe that I have an open heart and open ears and I will listen to your voices to make things right. Sincerely, Dany Rose
In a longer statement on the Facebook page (that she later posted to Instagram as well) belonging to the nonprofit’s art school, Rose wrote that the images were based on the horror movie Annabelle, “but because they were made of brown kraft paper and hanging from nooses, they were deeply racially offensive.”
Commenters aren’t buying it.
“Apology not accepted,” one user wrote. “Your egregious, disrespectful display will not be excused by your willful and privileged ignorance.”
“Your apologies fall on deaf ears, and your amends are of no interest,” wrote another. “You’re not paying attention. You’re not paying attention to the gentrification, you’re not paying attention to your privilege, you’re not paying attention.”
Dr. Kris Bevilacqua, who lives next door to Rose, thinks her neighbor really didn’t realize how hurtful the window decorations were.
“She’s from Germany,” Bevilacqua told the Brooklyn Eagle in a phone interview.
“If I can attribute this to anything, it would be cultural unawareness. She came to this country as an adult.”
“This is clearly a celebratory imagery of lynching,” Anthony Beckford, president and cofounder of Black Lives Matter Brooklyn, said in a statement.
“This is directly across the street from Public School 11, which is a predominantly Black school. The community itself is predominantly Black and is being targeted for more gentrification. Gentrification in itself promotes and enables racism, but we will not stand for it,” Beckford said. “Each and everyday we are seeing more and more people play ignorant to the fact that what they do or have done is racist, but the truth is that they know exactly what their intentions are and try to use their privilege and whiteness to gain a pass.”
“Neighborhoods like Bed-Stuy, Crown Heights, and Clinton Hill have been experiencing rapid growth, and welcoming new neighbors with open arms. Despite unsettling economic and social pressures caused by gentrification, legacy residents have been very kind, embodying the graciousness and warmth of our community,” said Councilmember Robert Cornegy, whose district encompasses ArtShack’s Bed-Stuy studio.
“What we saw in the window across the street from P.S. 11, the depiction of brown children hanging from nooses, is something our community flat out does not and will not accept. We expect new residents to have more sense than this, and to be aware of the historically context that has formed the bonds and foundation of our neighborhoods,” he said.
The parent coordinator at P.S. 11 did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A spokesperson for the city’s Department of Education told the Eagle, “The school community saw disturbing images and immediately reported them, and this issue is being resolved. Schools are safe havens, and there are school counselors available for any student or staff member who may need them.”
According to its website, ArtShack was founded in 2008 by artist McKendree Key, who began working with Rose in 2008. When contacted for further comment, Key referred the Eagle to Rose’s online statements.
Additional reporting by Lore Croghan.
Update (5:00 p.m.): This story has been updated to include comment from the city’s Department of Education.
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