Houston High Schoolers Face Blackface Backlash

A viral photo of a student at an off-campus party in blackface, wearing a Tupac t-shirt, brings questions of how schools should respond to racially charged incidents.  

By Alain Stephens & Hannah McBrideApril 14, 2016 12:04 pm,

Despite talk of a post-racial America, there are still some lingering issues up for conversation. A photo of a Texas high school student in blackface blew up on Twitter and has now been circulated by major news agencies.

Ogechi Anene, a senior at Houston’s Lamar High School where the incident occurred, says she reposted the picture and it got a lot of comments and views.

“I didn’t speak to the school at all because, from my knowledge, the incident happened outside of school,” she says. “I knew immediately that the school wouldn’t take any action because it was outside of school and there’s no jurisdiction for the school.”

Anene says her school is diverse, with the student body made up of roughly equal proportions of white, African-American and Hispanic students.

“But we’re segregated,” she says. “It’s not a definite thing that the school does to us, but it’s a social class thing.”

The photo came from a party associated with an all-white group called Wichaka. “At that party there were no black people,” she says. “That group of kids is not a group that allows black people.”

Because they’re not an officially sanctioned school group, Anene says the group functions more like a clique. “They have events and they have leaders. … They call them ‘masters,'” she says. “I wanna say it’s like a gang.”

Anene says though the group meets off campus, it affects the environment at Lamar.

“The things they do off of campus come onto campus,” she says.

The reaction to the photo has been divided, mostly along racial lines. Many black students were upset by it and many white students said it wasn’t meant to be racist.

“I personally believe that if you didn’t know what this meant, you shouldn’t have done it,” she says. “If they do something, they deserve consequences, whether they understood it or not.”