Local civil rights organizations in Birmingham, Ala., accused four white high school girls of committing a "hate crime" for allegedly posting photos of themselves in "blackface" and want to see the students sent to therapy. But according to one parent, it's all a misunderstanding.
Members of the Outcast Voters League — an advocate group to further the interest of black residents in Birmingham — held a press conference at Gardendale High School to decry the images, which were allegedly posted on social media with "racist" captions.
"These types of actions aren't tolerated within the Jefferson County School System," the group's president, Frank Matthews, said. "We owe it to our students to work in their best interest. If the leadership isn't to be trusted, we have no one else to turn to. What is happening throughout this school system is a disgrace to the education system. The culture or sexual abuse, misconduct and racism will not be tolerated in this school system."
Matthews stated that the photos should be investigated as a "hate crime." "These children have a disease," he said, adding that the teens' "blackface" and purported language are "learned behaviors."
"Any God-fearing person should be upset," Matthews continued. He further suggested that the children and their parents both should seek counseling.
In a statement, Matthews added:
“It is alleged, with photos attached, they went further to write ‘n*****s’ on their Snapchat. These types of actions aren’t tolerated within the Jefferson County School System. To expand, these actions should be investigated as hate crimes.”
However, Neal Underwood, the father of one of the girls featured in the photo, told AL.com, however, that the girls were wearing charcoal beauty masks and did not feature any racial commentary when sharing the original images to social media — which was approximately six months ago.
Underwood said that it was possible that the photos were taken and mocked up to make it seem like they were posted with a racial connotation in order to stir up trouble.
"The folks who know the hearts of these young ladies [know they wouldn't do such a racially insensitive thing]," Underwood said. "These two girls don’t have a malice [sic] bone in their bodies."
The photos featuring the four young women began making the rounds again on social media on Tuesday — this time captioned "Black Lives Matter" — as it was recently revealed that predominantly white Gardendale HS would be forming its own school system, reportedly in an effort to reduce the presence of minority students.
The allegations are timely, as U.S. District Judge Madeline Haikala recently granted the school's request to split from others in the district locality over a three-year period, but stipulated that the school repay the county for the building of Gardendale — which cost the county $55 million dollars. A desegregation plan for the school as well as a mandatory black appointee to the school board were also requirements in exchange for allowing the split. It was reported that Haikala approved the school's request despite "findings that the move had racial motivations."
Additionally, critics of the school and its decision to split have suggested that the secession from the unified school district is racially motivated.
— Boring Me 2 Death (@BoringMe2Death) May 25, 2017