Photo, video of Homewood-Flossmoor HS students in blackface spark outrage

A photo and video of four Homewood-Flossmoor High School students wearing blackface has sparked outrage among parents and students.

The video shows the teens going through a fast-food drive-thru with black smeared on their face while making disparaging remarks about African American girls. The photo was posted Sunday on social media.

School officials said they are addressing the issue, but parents say not enough is being done.

"I know these kids, I know these parents, these are my daughter's classmates, this is going to cause more tension to an already tension-riddled community, said Nicole Brookens, a Homewood-Flossmoor High School parent.

Some former and current students are planning a walk-out on Tuesday demanding that the students who wore blackface be appropriately punished.

While some parents voiced their outrage online, others took their complaints directly to the school.

Former student Ronald Williams and parent Dr. La'Shawn Latrice met with the principal and superintendent on Monday.

"We demanded a meeting for the public, the students and the parents," Williams said.

"We thought by talking to the administration they could see how serious this was to our community," Latrice said.

On Sunday, school administrators met with the students involved and their parents.

A written statement released Monday by the high school reads, in part: "Though this behavior occurred outside the school setting, this type of behavior is contrary to our expectations, is being addressed quickly and appropriately and will not be tolerated."

Because of privacy laws, administration cannot discuss punishment.

Some students said the boys were in class on Monday, but school officials said that is not accurate.

Many parents complained that not enough is being done.

"It is such a diverse area, you would think there would be way more tolerance and education, said Tashemia Mitchell.

Nicole Brookens, who knows the boys involved and their parents personally, said it's time to use this moment to address problems of race.

"I hope that I can do something to help this conversation get started," Brookens said.

Some teachers used the incident as a teaching moment in class on Monday.

A theater teacher posted on Facebook that he showed his students a short video about the history of blackface and its roots in American theater.

In a joint statement, Homewood Mayor Rich Hofeld and Flossmoor Mayor Paul Braun said: "In light of the highly offensive incident that unfolded over the weekend, the Village of Homewood and the Village of Flossmoor have come together to show solidarity in our condemnation of this type of behavior. No matter the age or the action of the person, hurtful and offensive behavior is neither accepted nor condoned. As Mayors, we know Homewood and Flossmoor take pride in our diversity and inclusion of all people, and the actions of these individuals do not reflect the values we have worked to establish. Our diversity is a fundamental value that should be fully embraced, respected, and at the forefront of our community. Together, and along with other community partners, Homewood and Flossmoor will continue to reflect the true spirit and heart of our communities. We will be working collaboratively with our community partners to address this repugnant behavior, together."
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