Kindezi Old Fourth Ward Charter School in Atlanta made second graders wear blackface masks in a performance that was supposed to “honor” Black History Month.
Video footage shared on Facebook by a concerned parent showed the kids who were 7- or 8-years-old wearing blackface masks with exaggerated red lips and white eyes, reciting Paul Laurence Dunbar’s 1896 poem “We Wear The Mask.”
The poem was about the oppression of African-American people.
“We wear the mask that grins and lies, it hides our cheeks and shades our eyes, this debt we pay to human guile; with torn and bleeding hearts we smile,” the kids read.
However, making students who are supposed to be the future generations wear blackface masks to celebrate a month honoring African-Americans was unbelievably insensitive and inappropriate.
The disturbing video was shared over 2.8 million times drawing outrage by parents of the children who were rightfully offended by the school’s tone-deaf actions.
“Kindezi School is a great school and we are all like a big family, however this act was not acceptable,” she said. “I do understand that it is a poem, but the kids could have made up their own mask and used emojis or anything other than blackfaces,” said Semone Banks who shared the video.
“There is a big lesson to be learned here.”
After receiving intense backlash, the school apologized for their mistake.
“Kindezi Old Fourth Ward sincerely apologizes and accepts responsibility for the hurt, anger, frustration and disappointment caused by the poor judgment we made in having students use masks that mimic blackface,” the school stated.
The teacher who was responsible for organizing the performance also posted an apology on social media.
“The pain behind the concept of black face and in no way was it my intent to be offensive, but to shed light on a part of our history that was not pretty,” the teacher said.
Thumbnail/Banner Image: Reuters, Shannon Stapleton