"Ghetto Spirit Day" sparks racial tensions at Hopkins High; two black students face charges
Some black Hopkins students took serious offense to the stereotypical "rapper" attire worn by white students.
There have been two significant racial incidents at metro schools already this year. In January, racial tensions at Minneapolis's Washburn High School were stoked after a black doll was found hanging from a noose in a school stairwell. Then, the following month, tensions between African-American and Somali students at Minneapolis South High School erupted into an ugly lunchroom brawl.
Now comes word that Hopkins High School is the latest school to be roiled by racial tensions. Two black students there face charges thanks to the way they responded to a "Ghetto Spirit Day" allegedly held by white members of the school's ski team in February.
According to MPR, on "Ghetto Spirit Day" -- participants insist it was really called "Rapper Day" -- some members of the ski team wore the type of stereotypical garb you'd imagine. School officials didn't demand they go home or change their clothes, though they claim that's because the garb wasn't noticed until late in the day.
A black student told MPR he saw a white student "wearing basketball shorts, a tank top, a 'do-rag.'"
Another black student said, "They dressed up like gangsters basically. There were sagging chinchilla coats with the chains, joint in the ear just mocking our culture. Really how we reacted, we felt it was modern day 'blackfacing.'"
Some black students at the 70-percent-white school put up posters in protest of the "Rapper Day" incident shortly thereafter, but school officials took them down because the protesting students didn't go through the proper channels.
MPR details what happened from there:
A day later, the two African-American students who first complained about how the student athletes were dressed, say they entered the assistant principal's office [the assistant principal happens to be black] and tried to take the posters back. The Minnetonka Police officer who works in the school was called to the office...
[A]ccording to the police report, one of the African-American students put his hand on the officer's chest in an effort to push him out of the way and leave with the posters.
That student was handcuffed. Both students were held briefly and then released to their parents. The two students admit the meeting was heated, but said neither of them touched the officer.
Those two students were charged with misdemeanor improper conduct and were suspended for three days. A week later, they and some of the ski team members who participated in the so-called "Ghetto Spirit Day" got together for a meeting in the principal's office. At that meeting, the white students apologized, MPR reports.
But the black students feel the ski team members got off too easy.
"I feel like it was just watered-down justice," one of the black students who now faces a criminal charge told MPR. "All the boys had to do, the only consequence for them, was that meeting. And all we did was tell them how we felt, they apologized, and we walked out."
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