The issue with blackface

Samuel Ogali , Courier Staff

The issue of blackface for the past several months has really been up for serious debate in our society.

It truly started a conversation when former NBC host Megyn Kelly seemed surprised that people were upset that a woman had darkened her skin to dress up as Diana Ross for Halloween, drawing major backlash. Kelly apologized and acknowledged the ignorance of her comments-only to have her daytime TV show cancelled. Then there was Virginia Governor Ralph Northam whose college yearbook revealed him to either be dressed in blackface or in a Ku Klux Klan attire; Northam would later apologize only to then deny he was even in the picture claiming that it was put on his section by mistake, but then admitted to darkening his face with shoe polish in the 1980s when he dressed up as Michael Jackson for a party. Now why am I writing this article? Because this issue hits close to home for me; my very own high school has been in the headlines all week because a couple of white students decided to wear, you guessed it “blackface.”

Over the weekend these boys darkened their skin and began posting themselves screaming on social media, and to make matters even worse, tthey approached a McDonald’s drive-thru where the employees, some who were also African- American, seemed visibly upset as the boys can be heard in the background laughing and making crass comments towards black females. Immediately the next day this incident spread when Homewood- Flossmoor students, parents and alumni started expressing immediate condemnation. The pictures and videos were all on social media for the entire world to see and I, for one, was just disappointed at the ignorance and lack of common sense.

Homewood-Flossmoor High School is comprised of a nearly 70 percent black student population, the fact that these boys would do something like this in such a community like Homewood-Flossmoor was just unbelievably stupid. Of course students and parents were upset and immediate disciplinary action was called for the boys. Throughout the week, local news to national news, like CBS and the Daily Mail have been covering what’s been happening at Homewood-Flossmoor. People are heartbroken, angry and honestly stunned that this has taken place.

On Tuesday, over 1,000 students at Homewood-Flossmoor began a walk-out in protest to what had taken place and demanded immediate action towards the boys. The administration, which consists of both a black principal and superintendent, supported the students’ request to walk out and protest, and while that’s good, many people in the community still believe it’s not enough. “If we continue to give passes for things like this, for certain kids and not others, then it’s allowing them to just keep doing what they’re doing,” said Tyfeni Gerring, the mother of a Homewood-Flossmoor senior.

According to the administration, the boys in the video have not returned to school at all this week and were immediately called to a meeting with their parents on Sunday to address the incident. Since the boys are minors their identities cannot be revealed, but classmates have said that the boys made apologies for their actions on their social media accounts and one has claimed not to know what black face was, but many believe it’s not enough.

I attended Homewood-Flossmoor for four years where I met some really good people from diverse backgrounds and shared some very good memories at the school. The issue of race is always difficult to discuss, especially when it comes to African-Americans and the history that it entails; people have questions and there are people who want to grow and prosper and not be ignorant, but when actions like this are displayed for the entire community to see, it derails that. Blackface is not okay, it never has been okay; not then and especially not now. Certain actions and words hold a lot of weight to certain groups of people, it’s not funny and it’s not acceptable.