A Houston high school is facing extreme backlash after viral photos showed white students wearing jerseys, cornrows and gold chains for spirit week.
The rising seniors at Memorial High School were allowed by the school to have a “Jersey Day” on May 12, reported the Houston Chronicle. However, senior Rachel Goodwin says many of the students at Memorial have referred to that particular spirit theme as “Thug Day” for several years.
In photos Goodwin posted on Twitter, white students are seen posing with fake tattoo sleeves, baggy shorts, cornrows, chains and fake grills. One student even had the word “THUG” written on her right-hand knuckles.
“Memorial High School’s ‘thug’ day for rising senior spirit week... yes this ACTUALLY happened TODAY at an actual high school but y’all keep saying ‘racism isnt a problem anymore’… right alright,” Goodwin tweeted on Tuesday.
The photos quickly went viral, receiving over 50,000 likes and 18,000 retweets.
People unfamiliar with Memorial High School’s “tradition” slammed the school and the students for participating in a day filled with offensive stereotypes and cultural appropriation.
After the photos went viral, the school canceled the remaining themed days for spirit week, reported the Houston Chronicle.
School administrators sent a statement sent to parents and teachers to address the issue.
“On Tuesday, some rising juniors wore inappropriate dress and body/hair decorations as part of an alternative, unapproved response to the theme day. While the majority of rising juniors followed the approved dress theme on Tuesday, any instance of an inappropriate or offensive dress violation will not be tolerated. Students found to be in violation of the Student Code of Conduct and dress code will be given a consequence,” the statement read, according to KHOU.
Several former students of the school also expressed their outrage over the incident.
Robert Boyd, a Memorial High School graduate, wrote on Facebook, "If you can't see how 'Thug Day' is obviously racist, you might be from Memorial HS. (Class of '81 here.)"
James Douglas, president of the Houston chapter of the NAACP, also spoke out about the teen’s choice of theme.
"They need to do more than make a statement," Douglas told the Chronicle. "They need to have some training programs for these students to make them understand what it is like to live in a racial society. And why what they did was harmful to other people."