A group of high school students from Chicago have sparked outrage after they filmed themselves driving around wearing blackface, and also harassing staff at a McDonald's drive-thru.
Photographs and videos of the students sporting blackface shared on social media on Sunday show at least three Homewood-Flossmor high school students with their faces painted black making derogatory comments about African American women while ordering from a drive-thru, reports the New York Post.
School officials say they're addressing the issue, however, parents have complained that not enough is being done. Nicole Brookens, a Homewood-Flossmoor High School parent, told ABC7 News:
I know these kids, I know these parents, these are my daughter's classmates, this is going to cause more tension to an already tension-riddled community.
I hope I can do something to help this conversation to started.
The mother of one of the Sophomore age students told the local Patch news that her son didn't understand what blackface was and that they'd been receiving death threats since the video went viral, reports the New York Post:
This is a very serious thing.
As crazy as it sounds, it is not about race. We are not racist. The students didn’t even know what ‘blackface’ meant until they Googled it later. It was a complete dumb and childish act.
However, students and parents at the predominantly African American school didn't think that was an excuse. Speaking to ABC7, parent Tashemia Mitchell said:
It is such a diverse area, you would think there would be way more tolerance and education
After considerable complaints from parents, the school agreed to meet with families of the students involved on Sunday.
According to ABC 7, former student Ronald Williams, and parent Dr La'Shawn Latrice met with the principle and superintendent of the school on Monday.
We demanded a meeting for the public, the students and the parents
We thought by talking to the administration they could see how serious this was to our community
Some teachers also reportedly used the moment as a teaching moment in their classes Monday. A theatre teacher said that he showed his students a short video about the history of blackface and its roots in American theatre, reports ABC 7.
In a joint statement, Homewood Mayor Rich Hofeld and Flossmoor Mayor Paul Braun said:
In light of the highly offensive incident that unfolded over the weekend, the Village of Homewood and the Village of Flossmoor have come together to show solidarity in our condemnation of this type of behavior.
No matter the age or the action of the person, hurtful and offensive behavior is neither accepted nor condoned.
As Mayors, we know Homewood and Flossmoor take pride in our diversity and inclusion of all people, and the actions of these individuals do not reflect the values we have worked to establish.
Our diversity is a fundamental value that should be fully embraced, respected, and at the forefront of our community.
Together, and along with other community partners, Homewood and Flossmoor will continue to reflect the true spirit and heart of our communities.
We will be working collaboratively with our community partners to address this repugnant behavior, together
A student-led walkout is planned for Tuesday, reports the New York Post.