How many things are wrong with this situation? Oh, let me count the ways.
Recently, at a high school in Waverly, NY, three white students thought it was a good idea to put on blackface and reenact the 2009 domestic violence altercation between Chris Brown and Rihanna during a pep rally. Why? As part of an annual competition at the school for the title of “Mr. Waverly.”
Yeah, we don’t get it either.
The photo above, which depicts one scene of the reenactment, has received more than 10,000 views and 100 comments since being posted on CNN’s ireport Monday by Waverly High School alum Matthew Dishler, according to The DailyReview.com. Dishler apparently included a note with the photo denouncing the students’ actions saying they depicted:
”acts of domestic violence as satire to an audience that included not only students but parents, faculty and various members of the media and community leaders.”
Two other Waverly alum also expressed their disappointment with the display, including Yale graduate Vlad Chituc, who wrote:
“I think it’s unconscionable that such blatant racism has been tacitly approved of two years in a row. The administration should be creating an environment where minorities are welcome, not the butts of racist jokes that make light of domestic violence.”
Hannah Van Wie-Desisti also backed up those sentiments:
“I used to be so proud of where I came from. Not so much now due to the recent incident. I found it unfathomable that the faculty would not only approve this idea for the skit in the first place, but allow it to go on during the pep rally. I honestly don’t believe that the students meant to offend, but were just ill informed of how offending their skit actually was. The staff should have stopped it before it even started. By acting like the skit was acceptable, they are teaching their students that racism is okay and that abuse is humorous. The whole thing outraged me and made me so disappointed in the school that I was once loved.”
Since this situation has gone viral, school district superintendent Joseph Yelich has made a statement to local media, saying:
“The Waverly School District is committed to creating a positive atmosphere through our activities,” Yelich said in a statement. “I will be working with our building administrators, our staff and our students to examine our current activities and develop future activities consistent with our commitment.
“Ultimately, our administrators are going to need to meet with the whole student body to set clear expectations for our behavior and the impact it has on all people.”
I would have thought that would have been done long ago. Interestingly, to try to prove there was no racist intent behind the insensitive blackface performance, one iReport respondent wrote:
Last year at the pep rally, a student dressed up as Tiger Woods for the Mr. Waverly skit, according to a commenter on this iReport. ‘I don’t personally know who was acting out the part of Tiger, but he was in no way making fun of black people. He was actually dressed in black dress pants, a Nike shirt and a Nike hat. Exactly how you would see Tiger dressed on the golf course. These are just kids acting out real celebrity skits.’
Umm maybe these kids should just stop dressing up like black people — oh, and making fun of things that aren’t funny.