A Black female high school football player became the target of a racist Instagram message Oct. 21. On a now-deleted account, a white woman likened star kicker Ashton Brooks to a gorilla.
The Midland Daily News reported the social media user posted the photo after Midland, Michigan’s Dow High School took on rival Midland High School in a game last week. During the game, Dow won 26-22.
A notable athlete, USA Today Sports reported Brooks’ 29-for-31 extra point rate – the best in the Saginaw Valley League – set the team up well for the match-up.
However, Brooks’ stellar athleticism did not protect her against the racist insult a former student hurled against her.
On Oct. 22, Brooks posted the image captured from @molllymuuk’s Instagram.
The user is Reyna Muck, a Michigan State University student identified by Facebook user Chris Aeschliman. According to school district officials, the MSU student last attended Midland Public Schools in 2015.
In the photo, Muck posed next to a person in a gorilla suit. She compared the ape to Brooks.
“got a pic with Dow’s kicker,” Muck wrote.
Brooks captured the image on Twitter, sharing it Oct. 22.
When u don't even graduate high school so u gotta come back to talk shit about people doing well in it :/ pic.twitter.com/H2m2FDfcNV
— AshBro (@AshtonBrooks14) October 23, 2016
She captioned the photo, “When u don’t even graduate high school so u gotta come back to talk s— about people doing well in it.”
Then, Muck attempted to share an apology, posted by Andrea Pugh on Facebook.
“My post was not intended to be racist,” she wrote in part. “And I understand that the joke was in bad taste. I apologize to anyone offended.”
Still, once Brooks posted the image, outcries of derision poured out online.
In response to Muck’s post, the MPS school district issued a statement.
“MPS is sickened by the social media post and feels awful for Ashton and her family,” it said. “The board, superintendent and high school administrators have thoroughly investigated this incident.
“The comments made do not reflect the beliefs of our district or schools in any way,” it continued.
Also, the district revealed the costumed student did not know about the post and the accompanying caption until officials informed him.
After praising Brooks as “an outstanding student, athlete and person,” the district vowed to denounce the racist post.
“We will condemn this type of racism and misuse of social media within our schools, district and community,” it read.
As for Brooks’ thoughts on the matter, she doesn’t think of Midland Dow as “a racist school.” Additionally, she dismissed the incident as “ignorance.”
“I think the post was just a representation of ignorance from one individual who was trying to bring me down, but that will not stop me from [performing] my best in the sport I’ve grown to love,” Brooks wrote in a Facebook comment Oct. 25.