Why Did This French Art School Photoshop In Black Students For A U.S. Diversity Ad?

September 12, 2018  |  

A school located in Lyon, France is feeling the heat after a recent promotional photo shows someone went to great lengths to photoshop melanated teens into promotional materials.

In the photos, students at the Emile-Cohl School are showed gathered together in front of a large painting. But there are stark differences between the photo used as the official photo and a second photo the photographer took. The story was initially reported in French outlet Rue89 and picked up by The Local France.

Social media users showed side by side comparisons to point out the blatant fraudulent effort. As you can see, several of the students from the original photo appear to be colored darker, and there are a few students of color photoshopped into the picture who were not originally there.

The photos were taken as promo materials for a second location, administrators hope to open a school in Los Angeles, California.

As calls for an explanation reached a fever pitch, a spokesperson for the school issued a statement, denying any intentional “blackwashing” and apologized to anyone who was affected or offended.

According to The Local, the spokesperson said the touch-ups were made by an outside communications firm to produce materials for the U.S. based promotional website. The school said it has cut ties with the firm that digitally altered the photo.

It looks like no one is officially taking the blame here.

Maybe instead of feigning ignorance and faking photos, school administrators should look across the majority white population of the school and resolve to make the school actually diverse in numbers, instead of in photos. We’ve passed the time where these types of actions can be taken seriously or lightly, especially as the world moves to be more globalized and diverse. Instead of dodging the bullet of blame, the school should also hire staff who reflect diverse backgrounds in order to ensure that something like this never happens again.

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