ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Dozens of parents and students in the Kirkwood School District went before the school board Monday to express concern about the district’s reaction to a student who appeared in blackface.
The district says that last week, a white student came out of chemistry class after putting black smudges on his cheeks and forehead. The student later said it was to create a beard.
Two black students were offended thinking it was a blackface and reported it to staff members.
One speaker, Dr. Koach Frazier, told the board what the students were told.
“They were told to calm down and it was probably not a big deal,” Frazier says. “All manner of excuses were given as to why it was OK for this to happen without consequence.”
It was also said that some of the Kirkwood High School staff members did not know the history of blackface – which was used by white performers in the 19th century – or its role in the spread of racial stereotypes.
Superintendent Dr. Tim Williams released the following statement:
“Kirkwood High School has a zero tolerance for racism in any form. We work hard to create a safe and secure learning environment for all students. Late Thursday afternoon, I was made aware that a white male student was observed with black smudges on his face. (Simulating a beard). The look was deemed offensive by two African American female students who reported the issue. Today, I met with all students involved as well as key staff members to address the concern. The young ladies shared their interpretations of the incident, and we all talked it through. The young man apologized for his error in judgment. His apology was accepted, and an enlightening discussion followed. This has been a teaching opportunity (moment) for all.
Dr. Mike Havener Principal Statement as of Tuesday Statement #2 We appreciate the courage it took for our student, Kiden Smith, to address the school board regarding a hurtful situation that occurred at her school. We also acknowledge and take seriously the pain and hurt expressed by our students, parents and community members. We must improve upon our work to create a culture that recognizes and values diversity. We must become more knowledgeable, students and staff members, about the history of racism in our country and how it still impacts our students, schools and society. This week, I am holding a meeting with all of our principals to discuss the actions needed to help our school community heal and grow.”
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