February 29, 2016 8:03 pm ET
Controversial Black History Month skit creates racial divide
Note: All identifying characteristics were deleted from all FB postings. There was one where the B word was used and that was by a male subject who supported the program.
Patapsco High School and Center for the Arts was formulated as a magnet school in 1995 specializing in the performing arts. However, over the past week, the school became a different kind of magnet—a magnet for controversy.
At the center of this issue was a performance by the school’s Step Team that you can view below and judge for yourself.
I received an e-mail from one of the parents, who was referred to me in order to examine the situation. This is one of the numerous e-mails that I received. It is published as written.
“Here is the video I posted on facebook. Honestly I don’t even know if I should push this any further. The beginning and end of the performance and the things that were yelled by audience members were not school appropriate and Im not afraid to stand up and say it was wrong. I am however very worried about my daughter. I started to get very nasty messages, one of them threatening and lots of friend requests from children. I ignored them and I can continue to ignore them. I can’t put her in an even worst place then I already have. She is so afraid to go to school now. I have messages from parents and students which I will share minus their names if you’d like who are glad I stood up and said this wasn’t appropriate. But Im getting a lot of hate mail too and It’s hurtful to be called things like a racist bitch and that if I don’t stop I’ll be hurt. Im an adult so I can handle it, if she gets these messages I will be so very upset. I do plan on going to the school tomorrow after my youngest’s daughters doctor appointment to show them the messages I am getting. This is the initial video I seen of the beginning of the routine and I have a small video of about 30 second my daughter was able to video on my phone from someone on facebook but it’s a really bad quality. I can say it was to the song “straight out of compton” with red/blue lights flashing and if you look up the lyrics I think you’ll agree it was a poor choice in song for a school event. I seen some of the performance in between from one of the friend requests facebook and they are talented kids. I’ll send a follow up message with the additional video that is on my phone.” [sic]
Again, I am including the e-mail exactly as it was received. There was no editing on my part.
Another untouched e-mail stated the following:
“I truly appreciate you looking into this. I really am all about creative expression and freedom of speech but I really think this crossed a line during school hours. The things some of the kids in the audience were yelling were disgraceful.”
Before viewing the link, one needs to look at the school’s policy regarding conduct as outlined in the Student Handbook, which states the following:
“Harassment includes actual or perceived negative actions that offend, ridicule, or demean another individual with regard to race, national origin, marital status, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, ancestry, physical attributes, socioeconomic status, familial status, physical or mental ability, or disability.
Intimidation is subjecting an individual to intentional action that seriously threatens and induces a sense of fear and/or inferiority.”
Keep in mind, this policy also includes the Facebook messages.
All of the visual evidence is on one link to maintain continuity. Here is the link:
Note: When viewing the FB postings, to make the page larger, click on the magnifying glass in the upper right-hand corner of the page.
One concern from the protesting parents was the language in the song, which was used only briefly. The song used in the presentation (according to the parents) was by the rap group NWA from the album titled Straight Outta Compton.
Warning: If you are not familiar with these lyrics, they are extremely explicit.
I should also note that only a segment of the song was used in the presentation. I could not be 100% sure because, at that point, there was a certain fear factor that set in and information was more difficult to obtain.
To show you the extent of the effect of this incident, when I attempted to retrieve some of the events on FB, this is what I found:
I do have a brief clip of a cell phone recording of the song, however it is not defined in my assessment to be an actual accounting of the context in which to the full extent the song was used.
Some parents kept their children home the next day as a result of this incident.
It should also be noted that the Baltimore County Public School System has been requiring teachers to undergo instruction in what is known as “white privilege training.”
This information was verified by several teachers who took the training.
As I stated before, none of this information is my opinion, but rather the facts about the situation. You, the reader, can formulate your own assessment of this.
Also, as a result of the various FB postings and the tones of those posts, there was a clear indication of at least one person privatizing his/her FB page because of the tone of the discussion, which included clear threats.
Prior to publication of this blog, it was learned through a FB posting (with with nine others backing up the first) that a sixth grade teacher at Perry Hall Middle School (who, until confirmed, will remain unnamed) wore a “Black Lives Matter” t-shirt to school on Hero’s Day.
I will send an e-mail to the principal for a comment.
Speaking of comments, I heard nothing from Mr. Kamenetz, the county executive; the superintendent of MD state schools; 7th District Councilman Todd Crandell; or Dr. Dallas Dance when I requested comment on the matter.
I have been conversing with Mychael Dickerson, a spokesperson for Dr. Dance, who directed me to submit questions concerning this topic.
The real travesty is that none of the public officials made any statements regarding this issue. I hope the voters remember this at election time.
I will publish the answers if I receive any, but—as long-time readers will affirm—we should not hold our collective breath.
On a final note, it amazes me that the county schools—which should be teaching equality and acceptance—are instead teaching inequality and fostering an even greater divide.
What happened to, “Can’t we all just get along?”