Catholic school deletes photo of student in blackface due to backlash
A student who intended to dress as Colin Powell took his costume too far
A Catholic school in Miami has sparked outrage after it posted a photo of a student wearing blackface on its website.
The photo, which was reportedly taken during a Black History Month celebration, shows fourth-graders from St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic School dressed as famous African-Americans. However, one student, dressed as former Secretary of State Colin Powell, decided to go further and painted his face black as part of his costume.
The picture was posted Monday on the school’s website and social media accounts. However, alumni who saw the image on the website contacted the principal to complain.
“I was pretty taken aback that not only did a student come to school dressed that way, it didn’t occur to anybody that that’s offensive,” alumnus Victoria Freyre told the Miami Herald. “It got to the point where they posted on a public online platform and nobody saw any issue with that.”
The photo was taken down once complaints started coming in, school officials said.
— Brenda Medina (@BrendaMedinar) March 7, 2018
Archdiocese of Miami spokeswoman Mary Ross Agosta explained to press that the student’s costume was supposed to be “creative” and didn’t offend any teachers or school administrators.
“This was a project not only to celebrate Black History Month but also to understand the diversity,” Agosta told the Herald. “It was never the intention of a fourth-grade student to do anything other than be authentic in his presentation of the person he selected to research and imitate.”
In a statement sent to Newsweek, Principal Lisa Figueredo echoed similar sentiments, reiterating that the student’s “well-meaning attempt by a fourth-grade student to depict an American hero, former Secretary of State and general, Colin Powell was misinterpreted by some.”
“We apologize to those who took offense at a photo published on STA’s social media. It was never our intention to insult anyone or to propagate or endorse any racist agenda,” the statement reads.