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HS student’s off-campus ‘blackface’ photo gets him suspended, results in student protest

Local NAACP ‘extremely disappointed’ with punishment

Turmoil recently erupted at a Delaware high school as a Halloween photo of two white students, one of whom was dressed in “blackface,” surfaced during spring break and then went viral.

Delaware Online reports that although the photo was taken at an “off-campus event,” the St. Georges High School student in blackface received a two-day suspension according to local NAACP president Lisa Bynum.

Bynum and the NAACP were “extremely disappointed” with that punishment.

“[Blackface] is a stark reminder of the systemic racism and prejudice that continue to plague our society, even within educational institutions that should serve as bastions of inclusivity and respect for all,” Bynum said.

Bynum wrote a letter “encouraging” St. Georges HS and New Castle County Vocational-Technical School District staff “to engage with the affected community […] in an open and transparent dialogue about how to foster a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion.”

She also said the school should implement House Bill 198 which requires “a curriculum on Black History for students in kindergarten through the 12th grades.” Delaware schools were supposed to start teaching this in 2021.

St. Georges officials said they’ve hired consultants “to review discipline processes and procedures, as well as help repair damaged relationships the incident created.”

MORE: Middle school student banned from district sporting events for wearing ‘blackface’

PrincipalIn a letter sent to parents, St. Georges Principal Chad Harrison (pictured) wrote that the blackface investigation was addressed “appropriately and in a manner consistent with [its] findings.” He referred parents to pages 47 through 56 of the New Castle County Vo-Tech District code of conduct, which deal with discipline.

Given the descriptions of infractions listed in the policy, those relevant in the case appear to be “Disruption of the educational process,” “Inflammatory actions/harassment/hazing,” “Instigation,” “Misuse of Cell Phones/Technology” (if the student was showing/electronically distributing the blackface photo), and/or “Cyberbullying.”

All of the noted infractions are “Level 3” or above for which out-of-school suspension is an option.

According to WDEL, St. Georges students alleged that the blackface wasn’t the first incident involving the student in question. About a quarter of the school took part in a “peaceful demonstration” to protest the incident (video below) and “to express their concerns and advocate for change,” Harrison said. One student read from the code of conduct.

Harrison noted the new consultants will “train and support specific staff members to facilitate our student focus groups” which will “give students the opportunity to share their thoughts, feelings, and personal stories to help us understand their experiences.”

They’ll also “lead restorative circles to help repair any damaged relationships.”


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A post shared by Delawareblack.com (@delawareblackcom)

Interestingly, a commenter to the Delawareblack.com Instagram post above claims the student in blackface was dressed in hunting gear — with his girlfriend in a deer costume. A photo on Delawareblack.com’s Facebook account appears to (at least partially) confirm that:

MORE: Another kid tarred for ‘blackface,’ this time by anti-white, anti-trans sports writer

IMAGES: VectorDOTdesign/Shutterstock.com; St. Georges HS; Delawareblack.com/Facebook

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Dave has been writing about education, politics, and entertainment for over 20 years, including a stint at the popular media bias site Newsbusters. He is a retired educator with over 25 years of service and is a member of the National Association of Scholars. Dave holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Delaware.