A Missouri high school homecoming sign bearing racist, anti-Black language and shown off by two white teens is being blamed in part on an “African American boy” by the mother of a student who appeared in the viral photo.
Olathe South High School in Kansas City is at the center of racist internet infamy because of the sign that served as both an invitation to homecoming festivities and an indication of attitudes about race at the school.
The sign in question, presented by a white boy to a white girl, had printed on it: “If I was Black, I would be picking cotton, but I’m white so I’m picking you” for homecoming. It included checkboxes for yes or no, with the former checked off.
The photo quickly went viral, resulting in a swift condemnation from Olathe’s principal in Friday, local news outlet KSHB reported.
“I felt it was important to share that we are working to thoroughly investigate the situation and contact all parties involved, including student guardians,” Olathe South Principal Dale Longenecker wrote in a note to parents before adding: “The type of behavior displayed in the social media post does not meet the expectations of our core values. Any behavior like this will be immediately addressed in accordance with our Student Code of Conduct.”
The mother of the girl who appeared in the video has spoken out since the principal’s note went out and said her daughter is getting death threats.
Rhonda Windholz said her daughter is not entirely to blame and unwittingly participated in something that she did not realize was racist. Amazingly, Windholz added placed more blame on a Black student who was not pictured than she diod for her daughter and the unidentified boy who posed with the sign long enough for a photo to be taken.
“It was the African-American boy who actually made the sign, already marked up and took the picture,” Windholz said in a self-described effort to “shed some light on the situation.”
Windholz specifically told KSHB that her family believes “all lives matter,” loaded language that is widely construed as a back-handed response to the Black Lives Matter movement, whether she knows it or not.
Windholz apologized and chalked it up to her daughter’s youthful exuberance during homecoming season.
“Caught up in the excitement of being asked to her first ever homecoming, our daughter held the sign that was given to her,” Windholz continued. “It was only after actually comprehending the situation, that she realized what was happening. She blatantly said no!! By then, it was too late.”
Windholz added: “Please know that we have diversity in our own family and believe that all lives matter.”
In 2021, when high school students are well familiar with Google, it is unconscionable how anyone could ever think such a sign is OK, regardless of race. But to try to place the blame on someone — a Black person — who wasn’t even in the photo in the first place is arguably even more indefensible considering the larger context to the situation.
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