"Wigger Wednesday": Black student sues school district alleging racism
A local high school is being sued by a black student over a longstanding student tradition known as "Wigger Wednesday."
Quera Pruitt, a former Red Wing High School student, says seeing her white classmates don do-rags and saggy jeans while throwing gang signs on "Wigger Wednesday" is a form of racial discrimination.
"To her, and frankly to me, 'Wigger Day' is the same thing as 'Nigger Day,'" says her attorney, Joshua Williams.
Each fall semester, the high school traditionally celebrates Homecoming with "Dress Up Days." Pruitt experienced the tradition for the first time when entering her junior year at Red Wing High School.
In 2009, "Tropical Day" was hijacked by a group of 60 to 70 students who declared it "Wigger Day" (also called "Wigger Wednesday" or "Wangsta Day"). On this day, the white kids wore cocked baseball caps, sports jerseys, and gang colors instead of the Hawaiian shirts they were supposed to sport.
The Wigger Wednesday Facebook group.
After receiving complaints, the principal told the students to change out of their "wigger" wear. In protest, some students started a Facebook page called "Wigger Wednesday."
The description features a sexual epithet that appears to be directed at Pruitt.
The incident infuriated Pruitt. Although Wigger Day was never an officially sanctioned school event, Pruitt says teachers and administrators saw the same thing happen the previous year and did nothing to stop it. None of the students who participated were disciplined.
So Pruitt filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights, which reached an agreement with then-district superintendent Stan Slessor in September 2010. Slessor agreed to a number of remedies, including a meeting with all African-American students to discuss any incidents of harassment.
The agreement did not specifically address what was to become of "Wigger Day," however.
Nor did it bring the matter to a close. Late last week, Pruitt filed a lawsuit accusing the school's principal, the superintendent, and the district itself of fostering a racially hostile environment.
"Defendants knew that they had a duty to stop Wigger Day because it created a racially hostile environment for the students," the filing reads.
The suit, which asks for $75,000 in damages, claims the incident ruined Pruitt's senior year and sent her into a deep depression. She stopped running track, dropped cheerleading and student council, and skipped the school's MLK Day festivities, believing them to be "a farce." She even missed her senior prom.
"To my knowledge, no one from either Red Wing High School or the district has apologized to my client or her mother," says Williams. ( Read the entire lawsuit here. )
Since Slessor is no longer the district's superintendent, the suit names the new superintendent, Karsten Anderson, who's only been on the job for a month. He declined to comment, but issued this statement:
Independent School District #256, Red Wing, has been and continues to be committed to providing an education to its students that is free from discrimination and harassment based upon race or otherwise. The district denies the allegations that it has created a racially hostile environment and looks forward to meeting these allegations in court. Since this concerns pending litigation, the district has no further comment at this time.
Pruitt graduated in 2010 and moved back to Little Rock, Ark., so her attorney says he's not sure whether or not Wigger Day went down again in fall of 2010.
"Wigger Wednesday" is hardly a local phenom either -- there's another Facebook group down in Texas that fetes the occasion, and even this handy little YouTube tutorial:
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