Oh, Arizona. You never fail to amaze. Neither do teens who don’t realize how quickly a photo posted to social media can upend their lives.
Surely by now you have seen the photo circulating on social media with six American teenage girls—flanked abreast, smiles ablaze—and the n-word plastered across their chests. Each young woman is donning a black t-shirt with a gold letter or asterisk on it. When standing together, the word “N-I-*-*-E-R” is spelled out.
Apparently, members of the senior class of Desert Vista High School in Ahwatukee, a neighborhood of Phoenix, took a photo earlier that day for the yearbook spelling out “Best*You’ve*Ever*Seen*Class*of*2016.” Six of them got together later with the bright idea of standing together to spell out the n-word. Somehow the photo found its way to Instagram.
One Twitter user commented, “Just imagining the dialogue they had before taking the photo.”
Now we see more of how this foolishness came to be. Just imagining the dialogue they had before taking the photo. pic.twitter.com/KHSiHjBMZ3
— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) January 23, 2016
And … the consequences are starting to roll in. There are unconfirmed reports that the students have been suspended for five days, but many think that this is not enough.
A Change.org petition began circulating Friday calling for the students’ explusion as well as the firing of the school’s principal. As of Saturday morning, the petition had more than 5,500 signatures.
ABC15 in Phoenix reports that parents began contacting the school on Friday, and predictably, a representative from the district weighed in, as did the superintendent.
“Words cannot express the outrage,” Jill Hanks from the Tempe Union High School District said. “What were they thinking? We had some students that made a really bad decision this morning.”
District Superintendent Kenneth Baca said, “It is unacceptable for any racial slur to be used, regardless of intent. We need to understand that words matter.”