JS Waters School: Outrage after students hold 'slave auction', one hit by 'master'

JS Waters School: Outrage after students hold 'slave auction', one hit by 'master'
A view of the exterior of the JS Waters School in North Carolina. (J.S.Waters School/Facebook)

In a shocking instance of racist behavior, several students at the J.S. Waters School in Goldston, North Carolina, were suspended for one day for holding a mock slave auction. According to one mom who came forward to reveal the racist act, her son's classmates held the auction, which he then told her about. The story doesn't end there though, as the mom is now considering legal action, because her son was "accidentally hit" by the slavemaster for publicizing the act.

This isn't the first time school students have been caught committing such racist acts. In April 2021, students at a Texas school were outed for engaging in a virtual slave-trading game on Snapchat, featuring their Black classmates. In September that year, the Newburg School District in Oregon found a similar Snapchat-based slave-trading game, which was reportedly going on since 2020. Back in May 2019, one New York teacher was fired for conducting a mock slave auction as part of her class. 


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In the case of the J.S. Waters School, it appears the auction was a student-led initiative. The students involved were only handed a one-day suspension, but in a school board meeting, the board promised to introduce a new policy to better deal with such instances. The chaos and drama have been unfolding for several days now, so here's a quick look at everything that happened.

Student hit for outing slave auction

On March 4, Ashley Palmer wrote on Facebook, "Our son experienced a slave auction by his classmates and when he opened up we were made aware that this type of stuff seems to be the norm so much that he didn’t think it was worth sharing... We even have a video of students harmonizing the N word. Since when were children so blatantly racist?" Then on March 8, Palmer posted an update saying, "Students received 1 day suspension for the “slave auction.”

A screenshot of Ashley Palmer's Facebook post detailing the slave auction at J.S. Waters School in North Carolina.


In that second post, Palmer claimed her son Jeremiah was "accidentally hit" by the "slavemaster" during recess with a baseball bat four times. He also "decided to retaliate by making up things that Jeremiah didn’t say to attempt to get him into trouble." It's unclear how badly Jeremiah was injured, but Palmer announced her intention to "discuss the legal options" with the Sheriff. Parallelly, she also worked to expose the school's racist culture with Chatham Organizing for Racial Equity (CORE). 

On March 14, there was a Chatham County Schools board meeting, where the issue was discussed. Several student groups attended the meeting and demanded changes to discrimination policies. One parent even said during public comments, "Some days I feel angered about what has happened, some days I feel sadness trying to grasp why are we still having these issues in 2022?" Superintendent Anthony Jackson also revealed a new procedure for dealing with racism and hate speech, promising accountability. 

Jackson also apologized for the auction, but it appears to be too little, too late. It's unclear if the students involved in the auction received harsher punishments, or if Palmer went through with her threat of suing the student who hit Jeremiah. The incident has also drawn national attention, and given the frequency of such slave auction at schools, it certainly appears to be a major issue that many parents and students overlook. 

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