Three separate incidents in which students in a North Jersey district posted racially insensitive material to Instagram have school officials and parents in an uproar. Oddly, there is less information at this time about what the views of students are. There’s also no word on what the possible punishment will be, but you can bet there will be some.
In the incident drawing the most fire, two students reportedly were trying some new facial cream that made their skin look darker. Pictures were posted to Instagram, and other students assumed that the girls were doing a blackface parody. The girls claim they were just goofing around with makeup, and didn’t even know the negative stigma around blackface.
According to Superintendent John Ramos:
“We are using our code of conduct and restorative practices strategies, as well as engaging community resources, to help students recognize and address the effect that their behavior has had on our school community. … Our job as educators is to respond to students’ bad choices with appropriate consequences and guidance, and to work to resolve what happened in such a way that our community remains whole.”
The district is scrambling to make parents feel better about the situation. We don’t usually recommend looking at the comments section of online news but this article at NJ.com covering the uproar shows how divided people are.
A video from CBS News interviews a parent of one of the girls. The video embed isn’t working but you can watch it here.
As you can see, the mother is quite distraught, and is looking to protect her daughter from the backlash, claiming that she meant to do no harm.
Unfortunately, this is a very difficult genie to put back in the bottle. The message is pretty clear, though. If you are going to post anything online that might offend someone, don’t. It is impossible to know how others will react.
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