A Missouri high school is under fire after photos emerged showing a dozen seniors, all of them white, taking part in a powder-puff football game while in full-on blackface.
The racially insensitive photos were taken November 5 at Sullivan High School during an annual game — organized to raise prom money — where girls from each grade faced off against one another on the field.
Considering that the tensions surrounding the Ferguson police shooting have been on full boil only about 70 miles away, the photos — shared on Facebook two weeks ago — are more than offensive and had the potential to start real trouble.
And, while the 12 teenage girls took to the field for the traditional event with their faces painted black, parents and school officials just looked on from the bleachers.
"I thought, "Oh my gosh,'" Sullivan Principal Jennifer Schmidt told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "I knew they didn’t mean anything by it, but, in hindsight, I should have made them wash it off and move on."
The seniors in blackface ended up defeating their opponents and later posed with the medals awarded for their victory.
In one of the two pictures, the all-female team is flanked by three young men, presumably Sullivan football players, who had no paint on their faces.
Schmidt said the girl who posted the incendiary photos was "mortified" that it had sparked outrage in some circles and attracted media attention.
In years past, girls taking part in the powder-puff game have painted their faces black and gold, which are the school colors, or worn eye black inspired by male football players.
According to Schmidt, on the day of the game the seniors brought with them only black face paint, so they decided to work with what they had.
The girls in question have not been reprimanded because, as Schmidt explained, they had no intention to offend anyone, or make a statement about race relations.
"They just weren't thinking," said the principal of the students' poor decision.
As a result of the controversy, Schmidt added, students will be prohibited from wearing any face paint in future games.