A rural New York school district is embroiled in controversy after a group of white students in black-face performed a reenactment of singer Chris Brown beating up Rihanna during a pep-rally.
Details of the incident at Waverly High School were made public when a photograph of the skit surfaced and a former graduate of the school posted a story.
The photograph shows three students wearing black-face. One student is restraining the other while the individual portraying Rihanna cowered on the floor. The photograph also shows smiling and laughing students watching the skit.
Waverly Superintendent Joseph Yelich confirmed that the photograph is authentic and that the skit was performed in front of the entire student body. He confirmed that students as young as sixth grade were in the audience.
I’m trying to take forward action from this point on to make sure that we create a positive atmosphere. I want to make sure our activities are consistent with that effort,” he told Fox News.
So who thought putting on a skit that makes fun of domestic violence was a good idea – and why didn’t administrators intervene?
“I found in 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,” Hannah Van Wie-Desisti told The Daily Mail. “By acting like the skit was acceptable, they are teaching their students that racism is okay and that abuse is humorous.”
Yelich told Fox News that he plans to get to the bottom of it.
“There’s a lot to find out about,” he said. “In an educational environment, I’m choosing to seize this opportunity to create instructional opportunity to try to find a teachable moment that we can turn into a positive learning experience.”
The village of Waverly is 97 percent white and some critics have argued that the skit was racist.
“I think it’s unconscionable that such blatant racism has been tacitly approved,” one graduate of the school said in a report by The Daily Mail.
Matt Dishler, another graduate of the school, wrote a report on the incident. He told the Star Gazette newspaper that there’s not a lot of racial diversity in the school.
“I felt like something should have been done about this,” he told the newspaper. “I don’t believe the kids had any vicious intentions, but the administrators should have said that’s not exactly okay.”