Atlanta Charter School Faces Backlash For Second Grade Blackface Presentation
An Atlanta charter school is facing backlash for a black history presentation that featured students wearing masks depicting blackface.
The performance occurred at the Kindezi School at Old Fourth Ward this past Thursday, according to a report from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. A group of second-graders recited Paul Laurence Dunbar‘s poem “We Wear the Mask” while holding up masks that looked like blackface masks.
A video of the performance was uploaded on Facebook where it received more than 830,000 views in 18 hours.
“The children have been rehearsing for months, dress rehearsals, staying after school…There’s no way in the world no one saw this. They allowed this to get on stage,” Ari Lima, a parent of a student who attends Kindezi (but wasn’t a part of the program), said.
Lima added that the historical context of blackface wasn’t a part of the children’s presentation.
Following the backlash, Kindezi released a statement Friday to apologize and accept “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 said that it plans to provide teacher education to ensure “staff has a thorough understanding of our shared history regarding race and racism in America, and how to engage in productive conversations with our students and the community.”
In a separate report from the Root, the teacher who came up with the presentation also issued an apology.
“The idea to use the masks was my idea,” Rachelle Clay, who is black, said. “I understand the pain behind the concept of blackface 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.”
Source: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution