GUILFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Guilford Public Schools is investigating after a student allegedly wore blackface to a Friday night football game.
The incident happened on September 20 at the game between Guilford and Hartford high schools.
Witness told News 8’s Mario Boone that the unidentified student, who school mascot is an Indian, posed for a picture, which was posted to Snapchat, at a pregame. He was wearing a jersey, beanie, and what appeared to be black face paint. The message on the photo read “game time.”
Paul Freeman, the Superintendent of Guilford Public Schools, said the student then showed up at the game “wearing blackface” and was “immediately addressed by the Guilford School Resource Officer who directed him to remove the face paint, which he did, before the game began and before most of the spectators arrived.”
This is not the first alleged blackface-related incident in the state in recent weeks.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People said it is hoping school officials take the incident seriously.
“This is a racist act,” said Dori Dumas, President of the Greater New Haven NAACP. “We want it looked at like a hate crime or at least a hate act, which it is. We want that behavior to be taken very seriously.”
Freeman said the school has issued an apology to Hartford Public Schools and is speaking with its own students.
He issued a statement, which read in part:
“…This incident does not reflect the students of Guilford as a whole. The students who I have come to know in Guilford are responsible and thoughtful and compassionate young adults who are offended by this incident as much, if not more so, than the adult community.
No incident occurs in isolation. If even one Guilford student felt that wearing blackface was acceptable or funny, then we have more work to do. As a community we will continue to educate our students about racial relations, about racism and racist behaviors, and about ways in which to be accepting and supportive of all.
Kiaundra Smith, Principal of Hartford Public Schools, issued the following statement:
On Monday, we were made aware of an incident that occurred before the HPHS Football away game in Guilford. A Guilford high school student showed up to the game wearing black face. He was stopped by a Guilford School Resource Officer and they made him remove the face paint. Guilford school administrators are addressing this issue at their school and in their district.
Also, on Monday, the Guilford High School Principal and Athletic Director contacted Hartford Public High School to apologize.
We do not believe that the Guilford student had any interaction with our students. However, we take this very seriously. Counselors are available for any student who would like to discuss their concerns regarding this incident. Our District Model for Excellence’s major priority on School Climate & Culture is to guarantee that all students feel safe, valued, and respected. We are proud and celebrate our diversity.
We will continue to take all precautions and measures necessary to maintain the physical, psychological, and emotional safety of every individual in our building.
It is unclear if and how the student was punished.