Port Washington high school students on Wednesday night heckled Nicolet High School basketball player Jalen Johnson with a photocopied image of him appearing to wear blackface, according to USA Today.
News of the racially charged incident has gone viral on social media and has infuriated many people in the basketball community.
This is ABSOLUTELY DESPICABLE! The Entire WI community should be appalled at this Garbage! The parents of those students should ashamed of themselves for this! pic.twitter.com/STo3ifHtNy
— Retro Boomin (@KT_IS_LEGEND) February 14, 2019
Nicolet High School superintendent, Robert Kobylski released a statement saying that Johnson was wearing a charcoal skincare facial mask in a photo that was taken from his Instagram account.
Eric Burke, Port Washington’s principal, said that the students revealed the photo in the student section behind the basket as Johnson was preparing to shoot from free throw line. Students made copies and distributed the photos.
“I cannot speak to the motivation or intent the Port Washington students had in displaying this photo, whether a harmless skin-care prank or a more deeply troubling, racially motivated scenario,” Kobylski’s statement said. “I can attest, however, to the fact that Jalen is more than a tremendous athlete: He is a fine, upstanding young man and deserves to be treated with respect and courtesy by all students and people, no matter what bench they are rooting for.”
Although Johnson’s father, Roderick, said the family wouldn’t comment on the matter, Johnson wrote: UNACCEPTABLE on Twitter after retweeting a post calling the incident “despicable.”
Burke released an apology to the public on Thursday in response to the incident:
“It’s disappointing,” Burke said. “We’re going to make this right. Apologies have to be made. As a principal, I apologize for our students’ actions, but our students are going to be involved in a sincere apology for what happened and the people who made this happen, there are going to be consequences.”
Johnson did not let the circumstances affect him on the court on Wednesday. He recorded a triple double with 10 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists, winning the game against the rival team with a score of 75 to 40.
The young player is ranked the third-best basketball prospect in the 2020 class, according to ESPN.