This week, between that Heineken ad, Roseanne’s nonacting ass being back on TV (notably on the same network pandering to “unheard white working-class America” and yet nixing a Black-ish episode about NFL players kneeling) and now a minstrel show at an elementary school, I think wypipo are pranking us with overt racism followed by, “Who, me?”
Latest case in point: On Friday, an Atlanta charter school had to issue an apology for a Black History Month program that had 6- and 7-year-olds holding blackface masks complete with bug eyes and red lips.
Here’s a video of the fuckery:
As you can see, the classroom included both black and white second-graders at the Kindezi School at Old Fourth Ward reciting Harlem Renaissance poet Paul Laurence Dunbar’s “We Wear the Mask,” which reads in part: “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 Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that after parents began posting the video, the school, which has three locations in Atlanta, issued a statement: “This was a poor and inappropriate decision and we sincerely apologize and accept responsibility for the hurt, anger, frustration, and disappointment that this has caused in the Kindezi community and the community at large.”
Whatever that teacher was TRYING to do for Black History Month (in March, no less), she failed miserably. In a Facebook screenshot from the alleged educator, an African-American woman, she explained that the masks were her “idea”:
And although the fact that the teacher was black was probably better than the teacher being white, using blackface to demonstrate “the mask” that black folks wear every day and having her white students wear it is the epitome of a good intention going straight to hell. It would be a stretch for a college theater class on the history of minstrelsy to get away with this, so why someone wouldn’t flag this at an elementary school is beyond me.
The irony is that according to the school’s website, “Kindezi” is a Bantu word that describes the act by which a community educates, loves and values every child.
In addition to an apology, Kindezi says it is planning to offer cultural-competency training for teachers—one of whom, despite her blackness, just made my week of racist pop-culture fatigue that much worse.
Editor’s note: This post was updated with a Facebook response from the teacher who put on the show, explaining her actions. The text was modified accordingly.