An Oregon high school student who wore blackface at a Halloween fundraiser said adults encouraged the teens to wear the controversial makeup so they could hide in the dark and scare patrons of the haunted barn.
A photo of Jasmine Bates and six other white students wearing blackface on Oct. 26 went viral after a girl posted the image to social media with the caption “n—–r gang.”
The next morning, Bates said she woke up to a barrage of backlash, including death threats.
“People were blowing up my phone [saying] ‘you’re disgusting . . . you’re nasty’,” the freshman girl told KGW8 TV in an interview published Friday. “There were people who like sent death threats and lots and lots of insults.”
Bates defended her decision, saying the photo “was innocent until somebody made it wrong.”
“He told us to put our hair back and our hoods up and have our faces painted black so that they wouldn’t be visible at all,” Bates said an adult at their school fundraiser for Future Farmers of America told them.
Her mother, who accompanied her for the interview, asked for sympathy for her daughter.
“All these kids in the picture, they’re hard working kids,” Laura Lewis said. “They’re probably some of the best in the community.”
The Superintendent at Bates’ school district in Lebanon, Oregon, apologized for the photo and said it will better educate students on race issues.
“I would like to express my apologies to anyone who saw the posting to Snapchat,” Bo Yates wrote. “It is essential that our students understand the historical context to ‘black face’ and appropriate curriculum will be adopted to ensure this.”
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