Three white students at a New York high school donned black face during a pep rally skit meant to parody Chris Brown’s assault on Rihanna. Waverly High School is in a majority white district, and teachers, parents, and the media were all on hand for Friday’s pep rally. The skit was one of a several pop culture parodies performed as a part of the school’s “Mr. Waverly” competition, and those in attendance criticized the school for allowing students to go ahead with such a racially insensitive skit.
“I think it’s unconscionable that such blatant racism has been tacitly approved two years in a row,” Waverly alumni Vlad Chituc told a CNN iReport correspondant. “The administration should be creating an environment where minorities are welcome, not the butts of racist jokes that make light of domestic violence.”
Chituc made reference of a skit performed the previous year, in which one of the school’s white “Mr. Waverly” contestants dressed as Tiger Woods. Another Waverly High School graduate, Hannah Van Wie-Desisti, expressed her discomfort with the parody.
“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,” she said. “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.”
Waverly School District superintendent Joseph Yelich released a statement, promising to address the concerns surrounding the skit. “The Waverly School District is committed to creating a positive atmosphere through all activities,” Yelich said. “I’ll be working with building administration, staff and students to develop future activities consistent with that commitment.”
“There is a set of concerns that a number of individuals have had, and we want to address those concerns,” Yelich said. “I want to be sure administration and staff and students know what our expectations are.”
Yelich’s statement did not mention the racial caricatures directly, nor did it specify whether the students or faculty involved would be punished.