With a few keystrokes, a Whitesboro High School teacher's finance assignment served to deepen a divide those born and raised in Cornhill say has existed for quite a while.
The sentence, from teacher Eric Paul, said, "you want to get your own apartment, but your mother worries about you and doesn't want you to get shot in Cornhill."
"This is 2021, and I shouldn't have to be explaining why something like this is unacceptable," says community activist, Tyra McKinsey. She and some fellow activists say the lesson being taught that day has nothing to do with finance.
"For the people who state that it's not racism unless there's a racial slur being thrown at us, that's ridiculous. That's ludicrous," says Kimberly Jones. "Just because you don't call us the n word doesn't mean you have not been a racist."
Jones wanted Paul, and others, to know that more than just bullets come out of Cornhill.
"There's so much negativity, every time Cornhill is mentioned, it's always surrounded in negativity. So first, Will Smith, rest in peace to Will Smith, he won with the New Orleans Saints, I believe Superbowl ring, came out of Cornhill., I went to school with will at Proctor. My brother, Ernest Jones, graduated from Utica City School District, went on to Oregon State University to play in the NFL, actually won a Superbowl ring with the Denver Broncos, grew up right here, we grew up on the 1600 block of Miller Street," said Jones.
The four agree: they don't want an apology, they want change.
"I and we are looking to engage the Whitesboro community about language, about history and American racism and the racism that exists in Whitesboro and everywhere else," says community activist, Patrick Johnson.
Johnson and the Whitesboro School Superintendent, Dr. Brian Bellair, have spoken, and plan to meet.