School notifies parents after Forest Hills Northern student was photographed in blackface

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- A letter was sent home Sunday evening to families whose children attend Forest Hills Northern High School, following an incident on Thursday.

Several people posted photos on social media, showing a student in a classroom, wearing blackface, which is makeup that was used to portray racial stereotypes in the 19th Century.

While some people on social media claimed the student shouted racial slurs while in blackface, the school says that is not the case. School leaders also say at no point was the student allowed to walk the halls with the makeup on.

Below is the letter sent home to parents Sunday evening:

Dear Husky Families:

An incident occurred last Thursday that has created much conversation and negativity about and toward Northern.  People are hurting and this needs to be remedied.  I have always believed (and continue to believe) that Northern High is a great place for our students.  But we are not perfect and there is work to be done.  The goal of Northern High has consistently been to be a place where ALL students feel welcomed and are able to pursue success in education.  When that is not the case, we need to examine what is occurring and work to fix the issue.

Northern High school does not condone or accept when persons’ actions and/or words harm another intentionally or unintentionally.  We talk about Husky Pride, “The Pack”, and UBUNTU.  We cannot simply use these words; we must live them.  We need to respect each other as human beings and our differences of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or any other difference we may have.  While we may not agree with each other all of the time, we can respect each other.  We all need to agree that racism is not acceptable in Forest Hills.

Here are the facts of the situation that occurred on Thursday during 5th hour:   Some students found makeup in the back of the room that had been left previously in the day by another student.  One student used that makeup to paint his face black (which gave the appearance of a racial stereotype).  Other students in the class took pictures and those pictures ended up posted on social media.  The student began cleaning his face and, when he could not get it off, he went to the bathroom to remove the makeup.  We were notified on Friday of the situation and began investigating.  Through our investigation and talking to students and the substitute teacher in the room, there was never any mention of the student using racial slurs nor was the student “allowed” to walk around the hallways with the makeup on his face.

We need your help in having these conversations with your students at home while we continue to work at Northern High to grow and learn.  People need to understand while they may say or do something, regardless of their intention, if it hurts another, it is not funny.

Together, we can ensure that Northern High School is a place that is welcoming and safe for ALL students to learn.

Thank you,
Jon Gregory, principal
John Dolce, assistant principal
Stephanie Hare, assistant principal
Cory Anderson, athletic director

FOX 17 reached out to the student in question, as well as community members and school officials. Nobody was available for an on camera comment at this time.

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10 comments

  • Augster

    Maybe he was identifying as black on that given day. Maybe he felt marginalized by having to use the “whites only” restroom. I think you retards have finally turned me into one!

    • Michael

      Did you read the statement by the school? Here I’ll help you out.

      “People need to understand while they may say or do something…if it hurts another, it is not funny”

      That being said the amendments are not absolute. There limits to all of he amendments.

      • learnedmylesson25

        What we have now is,blacks get free speech to insult whites.Kevin Hart movies are always ripping whites.”Blackish” does it subtly.Even “Let’s Make a Deal” host Wayne Brady,makes fun of his co-host’s whiteness.None if it is considered racist.Why?A black person is saying it.
        Meanwhile,whites cannot criticize blacks,or joke about them without being called racist.Unbelievable times.

      • Common cents

        If someone gets hurt feelings that is on them. It is not my job or anyone elses job to make sure that no one ever gets hurt feelings by what I say or do while exercising my first amendment rights. I get offended by libtards saying stupid sh!t all day. They have a right to be stupid if they want to.

  • Augster

    People don’t offend people, black paint offends people. We need a federal regulatory system that prevents black paint from getting in the hands of our kids. If someone wants to acquire such paint for malicious purposes, he would have to go to the inner-city and buy it from, well, the Blacks.

    • Augster

      Ironically, I’ve never been accused of trying to be black for my love of Justice Clarence Thomas or Thomas Sowell. Of course, they’re not really black. They just look similar to the folks I’m supposed to hate.

      • Clucko

        Clarence Thomas and Thomas Sowell don’t use their being black as a ‘look at me, I’m special’ character. They’re both outstanding individuals, but they don’t their race as a self-promotional characteristic. When you’re good, you don’t need to tell everyone. And, they’re good.