Two Alabama high school students and a team mascot thought it’d be a great idea to kick off “National Hispanic Heritage Month” at a pep rally Friday night by parading signs saying, “Trump: Make America Great Again” and “Put the Panic Back in Hispanic.”
The two white students, decked out in the colors of the Robertsdale High School, and the masked mascot sporting the football team’s “Bears” logo, seem to be thoroughly enjoying their moment of unabashed racism. But a photo of the incident now being shared on social media is about to make their lives ugly.
The photo first began circulating because of outraged Latinx students, alumni, and other local residents who demanded that school administrators take action against the seemingly sanctioned hate–speech celebration.
“If this picture doesn’t make you sick please delete me. You will not be missed,” Facebook user Trey Leggett wrote. “This individual was NOT spoken to, and, as far as anyone can tell, WILL NOT face any sort of repercussions from the school for this action. If you don’t agree with that, feel free to give Robertsdale High School a call and leave them a message explaining why it is grossly offensive, and why it should not be tolerated ANYWHERE, especially in a high school setting with a large percentage of the student body being latinx.”
“As a former student and class president of #RobertsdaleHighSchool I am deeply hurt and confused as to why this was accepted as acceptable at a public high school,” alumna Krystal Austin Moore wrote. “I experienced very underhanded racism on several accounts as a student, but never in my lifetime would I imagine this would still be penetrated into the student body on this level at my beloved alumni.”
Local news station WKRG reached out to the school district and was told by school superintendent Eddie Tyler that he is aware of the photo and administrators are “following up on the matter.”
According to WPMI, the Robertsdale Bears played the Spanish Fort Toros on Friday night.
Update, Sunday, 9:05 a.m.: According to WKRG, the student who posted the photo on social media—the one holding the “Panic” sign—has “apologized.” That’s according to her family’s lawyer, who sent the news station a copy of a letter the student apparently wrote to the school board.
That letter stated:
“I am one of the girls in the picture at the Robertsdale High school pep rally. I had the sign that said ‘Put the “panic” back in Hispanic.’ Sir I would like to inform you that, that wasn’t my intention and was not meat for it to be taken that way. We played the Spanish Fort Toros on Friday night, I was meaning ‘panic the Toros’ considering when I think Spanish I think Mexican or Hispanic. When I realized how people were taking it, I wasn’t going to bring it. But my friend who had it in his truck brought it to the bleachers, when one of the boys sitting near me saw it and held it up. I do apologize for making our school look bad and I do understand any consequences I must face. But I also believe in my right of speech. I did not mean it in any kind of racial way, half of my family are Hispanic. Thank you for your time reading this, I apologize for all the publicity and misunderstandings this has brought to our school.”
Well then, that settles it.
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