White student wears black mask, dreadlocks during school announcements

HARRISBURG, NC (WBTV) - Some Hickory Ridge High School parents are concerned after a white student put on a black mask with dreadlocks to imitate another student.

The incident happened during Friday morning's announcements and was broadcast through the school. A white student was honoring the student who used to do the news, who is now working in another capacity and is an African-American with dreads.

"I was really very surprised," Hickory Ridge High School parent Renee Williams said. "I thought that everything had to be approved by administration and a teacher and they would try to be sensitive to the climate that is going on right now."

The Cabarrus County School District officials say they don't know if the student putting on a black face was approved.

Officials say there is a conversation between students and the teacher about the announcements before they are aired. The district said the school issued an apology that same day after it was determined that people were offended, and took the announcements off the internet.

Parents say when they saw the image it took them back to place in history that was painful.

"When they use those type of faces it always meant something derogatory toward African-Americans," Williams said.

Vince Powell is the school board member who represents Hickory Ridge High. He said parents have not called him about this and said he is not alarmed by what happened.

"There was no malice or ill-intent," Powell said. "Just an ill-time attempt at humor."

"I think that students need to be educated," one mother told WBTV. "About what truly is humor and humor should not be at the expense of any race."

Other parents are also concerned about what happened on the morning announcements.

"The hair may have been one thing," parent Tanya Colone said. "Maybe if I put a wig on to look like a teacher or another child, but the face is the problem."

Parents now want specialized training at the school so this doesn't happen again.

"I think there needs to be across the board some type of cultural awareness," Williams said. "Some sensitivity training for students and the teacher."

The school district would not say if anybody was disciplined over this matter. The district said it will use this as a teachable moment.

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