District: Some Chaska HS Students Painted Faces Black at Football Game Friday

September 18, 2018 10:26 PM

Three Chaska High School students spray-painted their faces a certain color as a show of school spirit. 


They joined the crowd cheering on their football team at the stadium Friday night. The color theme was black. Teens wearing black shirts, black jeans and three white classmates sported faces painted black. That blackface getup upset some of the other students in the stands.

"The racism and whole history of blackface is offensive," said a student who doesn't want to be identified. He added he was shocked silent during the game.

Especially, when he noticed another teen took the blackout theme even further by displaying an afro.

"It creates a negative connotation and reinforces the derogatory stereotype even more," the student said.

Brett Johnson, the director of community relations of Eastern Carver County Schools, said in an official release Tuesday the families of Chaska High School were informed about the incident and they are addressing it with those involved. 

According to the release, the high school's cheering section participated in the theme event  to encourage school spirit. After the game, Chaska administration was alerted a few students painted their faces black and regretted that staff either before or during the game didn't confront the students. The administration said Tuesday that two students involved have been identified. 

Johnson said the following statement concerning the incident:

Whether or not these students were aware, a white person painting their face black has racial connotations that go back to America's history in the 19th century. Throughout that century, white entertainers would mock African-Americans in what were called minstrel shows. The white performers would cover their faces with black paint, an act known as blackface. This history is painful, and acts of blackface are mocking and insulting.

Chaska High School administrators  said privacy laws prevent them from revealing any consequences or discipline. 

On Monday, Chaska staff discussed this matter with students organized the cheering section. Student organizers are now aware that a blackout theme applies exclusively to clothing.

In a text message, one of the classmates photographed wearing blackface defended his decision.

"It's not racist at all," he said.

One of his peers disagrees.

"Your actions do have consequences, even if you didn't mean it to be offensive, it is still offensive, regardless of the intention," said the student who didn't want to be identified.

The District called the event "unfortunate and difficult" and is using it as a teachable moment. 


Tommy Wiita & Beth McDonough

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