Illinois High School Students Walk Out Over Blackface Photos, Videos

One thousand students at an Illinois high school participated in a walkout following a social media post of white students wearing blackface. Four students at Homewood-Flossmoor High School (HFHS) in Flossmoor, Illinois posted photos of themselves in blackface on social media. They also recorded a video where they went through a fast food drive-thru while wearing dark makeup and making derogatory remarks about Black girls, ABC-7 reported. The student population at HFHS is nearly 69 percent Black, according to The Chicago Tribune.

In a letter to parents released on April 29, school Superintendent Dr. Von Mansfield and Principal Dr. Jerry Lee Anderson said the posts were “highly offensive and culturally insensitive.” The administration said they were meeting with the students and the families involved in the incident. “This type of behavior is contrary to our expectations, is being addressed quickly and appropriately and will not be tolerated,” the letter read. In a separate letter issued on April 30, high school officials confirmed that 1,000 high school students participated in a campus walkout and said it was proud of the students and faculty members that took place in the protest. “We are thankful to the many individuals who have reached out to us and shared their thoughts, feelings and volunteered their support and services to assist our school community as we begin building a pathway forward,” the statement read. “The diversity of our communities represents our greatest strength and will be the catalyst that brings us together.” Students who participated in the walkout said they will not tolerate hate in their school or community. Some believed the students who took part in the incident should be removed from the school, The Chicago Sun-Times reported. “They should be expelled,” HFHS senior Claudia Bowens, 18, told the publication. “That’s unacceptable when they go to a school with a majority of Black students.” In a joint statement to ABC-7, Homewood Mayor Rich Hofeld and Flossmoor Mayor Paul Braun said the two villages will unite “to show solidarity in our condemnation of this type of behavior.” “No matter the age or the action of the person, hurtful and offensive behavior is neither accepted nor condoned. As mayors, we know Homewood and Flossmoor take pride in our diversity and inclusion of all people, and the actions of these individuals do not reflect the values we have worked to establish. Our diversity is a fundamental value that should be fully embraced, respected, and at the forefront of our community,” the statement read.

The mayors added that their towns “will continue to reflect the true spirit and heart of our communities” and promises to work “collaboratively with our community partners to address this repugnant behavior, together.” In April, a video of an American University student using the n-word went viral. The video, which was viewed more than 77,000 times, showed freshman Aise O’Neil repeatedly saying the word in a common area of Anderson Hall at the university. The university said in a statement that it does not “condone the use of racist language.”

About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in the various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.