A high school powderpuff football team—made up entirely of white girls from the senior class—took the field in full blackface Nov. 5, shocking their principal and everyone who saw the photos on Facebook. But the principal claims there was "nothing racial" about the girls' intent.
At first, Sullivan High School principal Jennifer Schmidt thought, "Oh my gosh," she told St. Louis alt-weekly Riverfront Times, but then she decided "Oh, they don't mean anything by it. Just let it go. No one thinks anything of it."
But people who saw the photos drew different conclusions, considering that Sullivan, Mo., is just 60 miles from St. Louis. USA Today pointed out that the facepaint "would seem to be particularly distressing given Sullivan's relative proximity" to the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and the subsequent protests.
Also distressing: this photo of the seniors raising a bloody jersey, which represents a defeated freshman team:
Schmidt says that critics of the team "got the wrong intention," and wearing face paint in the school colors—black and gold—is an annual powderpuff tradition meant to parody football eye-black and "intimidate the underclassmen." But this year, they somehow forgot the gold.
If there's no ill intent there, there's at least bad taste and worse timing.
None of the girls have been disciplined, but "I can assure you they will not be wearing black face paint again," Schmidt said.
"In fact, we're probably just going to end the face-paint thing, and nobody wears any at all."
Yes. Good thinking. That is probably for the best.