The only thing missing were the “Colored Only, No Whites Allowed” signs of the past.
In a move that harkens back to the days of segregation in the Deep South, as dictated by Jim Crow laws, only in reverse order, an Illinois high school principal held an event that white students were not allowed to attend.
Nathaniel Rouse, principal of Oak Park and River Forest High School located in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park, Ill., organized a “Black Lives Matter” event in association with Black History Month, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The assembly was held on Feb. 27, and was “limited to black students only,” the Tribune reported.
And the edict was strictly enforced.
According to some upset parents, white students who tried to attend were turned away — so much for diversity and inclusion. It’s not clear if other students of color were also denied entry.
But Rouse, an African-American, said that the event that excluded white students was not intended to be seen as exclusionary.
“First and foremost, this is not meant to give a connotation that we were trying to be exclusive,” he told the Tribune.
Instead of acknowledging the boneheaded decision to discriminate against better than half the student population — according to the school’s website, the student population last year was 55 percent white — the school issued a statement defending its actions.
In the release, the event was justified as “an opportunity for students who identify as black to speak openly, honestly, and productively.”
“Racial affinity groups are often used in learning communities to help facilitate positive identity exploration and provide people with similar experiences a space in which to pose questions and process topics,” the statement said.
“I found it has been far easier for me to talk about my experiences with racism with individuals that look like me,” Rouse said. “I still struggle myself with talking about my experiences with people who don’t look like me.”
The content of one’s character aside.
Rouse said the event was prompted by concerns from black students over Ferguson, Mo., police Officer Darren Wilson being acquitted by a grand jury in the death of Michael Brown.
“I credit them with giving me the push I needed to follow my heart and do something different for our school,” he said.
Ironically, five days after the exclusive event the Justice Department released a report that cleared Wilson in the shooting.
“Federal officials concluded there was no evidence to disprove Wilson’s testimony that he feared for his safety, nor was there reliable evidence that Michael Brown had his hands up when he was shot,” CBS News reported.
But the good news is, in the name of diversity, the school may very well be holding white-only events in the near future, as well as Hispanic-only events and Asian-only events.
“Further conversations among and across other racial affinity groups shall take place at the high school in the coming months and into next year,” the school promised in the issued statement.
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