A tense debate has erupted in the comments thread of an article here on Hopkins Patch as your fellow readers debated a February incident at Hopkins High School that one African-American student labled "modern-day blackfacing."
As we wrote last week, prosecutors have charged two Hopkins High School students with misdemeanors following a confrontation in the assistant principal's office. The confrontation arose following student protests aimed at the school’s handling of an incident in which they say several white students mocked black culture.
"Mike B." lauded the district and police response:
The school administrators were correct to call the police, as it would appear the school administrators were threatened and intimidated by the "students."
Regarding the alleged incident itself.... these "students" who were arrested seem to be making a federal case out of nothing. Nowadays, every little perceived annoyance is blown up into a false charge of racism.
Other readers agreed, including "Derrick:"
Since when is the 'blackface' used so flippantly, especially with regards to this incident? The use of this term in conjunction with what happened totally underscores and minimizes the term and its' history. Calling white students, who are mimicking what I see as the negative side of hip hop culture, modern day blackface(ers) is the pot calling itself black, so to speak. I am African-American, and I don't want my culture lumped together with the underside of hip hop culture...If these kids were truly offended, then they should have been able to, or they need to learn how to, frame their frustration in a constructive way to exact change, not throw around 'catch' phrases like 'blackface' and get the police involved
Some readers, including "Tiffany Ramm," denounced the event:
As a woman of color, a resident of Hopkins, and a School Social Worker of another school district; I feel there has been a HUGE oversight of these students feels, perspective, and voice. Hopkins has struggled on and office with racial tensions for years and maybe all these students wanted was some validation that there feelings were real.
"Alan Stone" chimed in as well:
People, especially white Christian people and that includes white Christian students don't begin to understand the hurt, the anger, etc. etc. etc. that discrimination causes
those that have been discriminated against. The school was completely out of line for letting this happen, from beginning to finish.
The school district has not posted a response to Patch yet, but did email us this statement after we contacted them:
In February, there was an incident at Hopkins High School involving three students dressed up as rappers. Two students felt offended by this behavior and reported the incident to the administration. The high school responded to this matter in a way that was fair and appropriate for all students involved. The high school used outreach as a key strategy in resolving this issue and brought all students together. All students shared perspectives and had a chance to be heard.
There was a separate incident where students were disciplined. Because of data privacy laws, we are not able to share the details of this incident; however, we can say that the incidents are distinct.
At Hopkins High School, we are committed to the success of all of our students. We do not tolerate behavior that is offensive or disrespectful. When a student brings such behavior to our attention, we take it seriously and intervene. We are confident that the facts do not support any allegation that we treated students unfairly. Because we take these issues so seriously, we are voluntarily working with a third party to review our handling of this situation to ensure all policies, procedures and practices were appropriately implemented.
What do you think of how the students involved comported themselves? Do you agree with the way the district and school administers responded?