Multicultural News

NAACP pushes to address cultural insensitivity in schools after blackface incident

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Indianapolis NAACP wants to sit down with Center Grove Community School Corporation leaders to address concerns over cultural insensitivity. This move comes a little over a month after a photo of a student in blackface began circulating online.

The NAACP shared with News 8 the letter sent to the district superintendent. Included in the letter were other plans to file a report with the U.S. Department of Education and Civil Rights. NAACP representatives said there are current laws in place requiring schools to address cultural competency, but said those requirements aren’t always met.

“We’re hoping to engage in dialogue. The school board — looking to engage them to determine what they are doing specifically about this incident,” said NAACP President Ivan Douglas-Hicks.

At the time of the blackface photo being shared, the district responded, in part saying: “We all must recognize the impact our words, photos, and actions can have on others. As a school community, we must all work together to unite and not divide.”

But Douglas-Hicks said the statement isn’t enough.

“There’s a difference between a reaction and a response. The reaction causes you to employ your public relations,” he said.

A letter sent to the district superintendent asked specifically for “details concerning current and future efforts to ensure that both students and staff are working toward greater cultural intelligence and standard of civility.”

Douglas-Hicks said this incident doesn’t stand alone, but it’s a sounding board to spread awareness about a broader concern across the state — such as an incident where a student in a Hamilton County student claimed others used the “n-word” against her during a virtual class or an incident at a private school in Indianapolis where a student said a photo of cotton was sent to them.

The NAACP says it is holding its general body meeting later this week where they hope to talk to school leaders.

The district sent this statement in response.

Center Grove’s administrative team and Board of School Trustees appreciate the concern of the Greater Indianapolis Branch of the NAACP regarding an issue of racism in our community. The situation referenced in the organization’s letter was disappointing, hurtful, and in no way representative of our school district, athletic programs, or the citizens who live in our community.

As we do with all allegations of student violations of the Center Grove High School code of conduct or handbook policies, the CGHS administrative team conducted a thorough investigation of this incident and issued the appropriate discipline for all involved. All student education records, including disciplinary records, are federally protected under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, and therefore not available to the public.

Our school district’s vision is for all students to receive an exceptional educational experience. As an educational institution, we take seriously our responsibility to prepare our students to become knowledgeable, confident, and responsible citizens.

We look forward to continuing the conversation with the NAACP and welcome any insight or resources the organization is willing to offer