A Snapchat video went viral over the weekend showing male teenagers who attend Homewood-Flossmoor High School, in the Chicago metropolitan area, wearing blackface, shouting profanities while driving, and harassing a female cashier at a McDonald’s by making disparaging remarks about Black girls.
One of the boy’s mothers tried to defend her son by saying that none of the teens knew what blackface was or what it represented and that they weren’t racist, She also said that the teenagers have been facing death threats.
“This is a very serious thing,” the mother told the Patch. “As crazy as it sounds, it is not about race. We are not racist. The students didn’t even know what ‘blackface’ meant until they Googled it later. It was a complete dumb and childish act.”
However, many students, parents and school officials are not taking the excuses. A group of Black parents of students who go to Homewood-Flossmoor High School are planning a list of demands for the school’s principal, including cultural sensitivity training.
Hundreds of students at the high school also walked out of class on Tuesday at 11 a.m. in a peaceful protest to stand in solidarity with Black students and community members chanting “We want justice!” and “No place for blackface!”
Homewood-Flossmoor HS students walk out in protest over students wearing blackface. Despite a huge police presence, students took over Kedzie pic.twitter.com/JU2ndzN3sL
— Sarah Schulte (@SchulteABC7) April 30, 2019
The school supported the students walking out of class and estimated that nearly 1,000 students took part. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the protest was originally sparked with rumors began swirling that none of the students would face disciplinary action.
?Listen to Black youth when they tell you it’s a double standard & they don’t get fair treatment!???????? #HomewoodFlossmoor targets Black students by calling them gang members but let’s off white students who wear Black face!#BlackFaceIsRacist pic.twitter.com/KRPS0meNoU
— GoodKidsMadCity (@GKMC18) May 1, 2019
“Nothing like this really happened before — that’s why it’s so shocking,” said Darian Hughes, 17, a junior who is African American, told the Sun-Times.
The school is predominately Black with almost 69% of the school’s students identifying as such in the 2017-2018 school year, according to the Illinois State Board of Education’s website.
Homewood Mayor Rich Hofeld and Flossmoor Mayor Paul Braun said, in a joint statement: “In light of the highly offensive incident that unfolded over the weekend, the Village of Homewood and the Village of Flossmoor have come together to show solidarity in our condemnation of this type of behavior. No matter the age or the action of the person, hurtful and offensive behavior is neither accepted nor condoned.”
It’s still not clear what actions, if any, will be taken against the offending students. School officials told local news media that administrators have met with the parents of the students in the video but that confidentiality laws prevented more information being released about what actions would be taken.