Last Friday, three white high schools students in Waverly, New York attended a pep rally in blackface and re-enacted a “scene” from the 2009 incident in which performer Chris Brown beat his then-girlfriend Rihanna.
The skit was performed in the school gym in front students, parents, and faculty.
A contributor to CNN iReport using the handle Mjdishler is a graduate of Waverly High School and obtained details and images from the pep rally. An excerpt from his report is below:
At the most resent Pep Rally for Waverly High School, located in Waverly NY, the usual fanfare of cheering for the home team to get them ready was in full swing. As the rally progressed you had your usual cheers and rally cries for the fall sports teams and the football team. It seemed to have done well, with Waverly defeating their opponent 70-21. But what happened at that pep rally went much farther than simple cheers. Three white students were to perform a skit in black face, depicting Chris Brown and Rhianna most notably. In this skit they would display acts of domestic violence as satire to an audience that included not only students but parents, faculty, and various members of the media and community leaders. None of them stopped the skit.
The majority of students at the high school are white. According to public records from 2010, over 98 percent students at Waverly High are white. Out of close to 580 students, only five were black, two were American Indians, and two were Asian.
Waverly, New York is also just as white: the town is close to 97 white. (According to the most recent Census data, over 97% of the community is white, though just over 96 percent identified as “Not Hispanic White.”)
Joseph Yelich, superintendent of the Waverly Central School District, said in a statement to The Daily Review that he plans to meet Tuesday with administrators regarding the incident. He also plans to meet in the near future with extracurricular adviser and student groups.
“The Waverly School District is committed to creating a positive atmosphere through our activities,” Yelich said. “I will be working with our building administrators, our staff and our students to examine our current activities and develop future activities consistent with our commitment.”
“Ultimately, our administrators are going to need to meet with the whole student body to set clear expectations for our behavior and the impact it has on all people,” he said.
According to tweets and Facebook posts from other students, this isn’t the first time there was a blackface performance at Waverly High. The CNN iReport also includes a quote from a former student that alludes to something of a pattern.
“I think it’s unconscionable that such blatant racism has been tacitly approved of two years in a row. The administration should be creating an environment where minorities are welcome, not the butts of racist jokes that make light of domestic violence,” said Waverly alumni and Yale graduate Vlad Chituc.
It’s a controversy that’s not going to go away anytime soon for the Waverly, New York.
A look at the comments on CNN’s website from community members shows the town is split on whether the performance was offensive or not.