A Houston high school student is facing criticism after her costume at a weekend party was interpreted as blackface to impersonate Tupac.
Fellow students at Lamar High School claim her costume, which includes black face paint and a black T-shirt with an image of the rapper, is offensive. According to KHOU, a photo went viral of the student in costume and holding her hands praying in a similar fashion to that of an iconic image of the rapper. She was attending an off-campus initiation party.
“It hurts,” student Jessica Forte says of the photo.
“It’s really painful and frustrating,” echoes Ogechi Anene, another student at Lamar High.
Other classmates say that the picture was taken out of context and should not be cause for alarm.
“It was interpreted in a racist manner, which is wasn’t intended to be,” Wahid Fady, another student at the school says. “Social media has a tendency to just boost these things and make ’em go viral.”
Reagan Shadwich, a student who was invited to the party, but could not attend because she was grounded, told the news outlet that each girl was given a character to dress up as and the classmate in question was told to impersonate Tupac.
Shadwich gave a conflicting story to Click2Houston, saying that the student’s costume was misinterpreted.
“It was supposed to be a shadow,” she says. “They asked her to bring a black shirt and that happened to be the shirt she was wearing.”
The publication received a statement from the Houston Independent School District about the incident and said officials are taking steps towards identifying the nature of the incident and emphasizing an environment of sensitivity at the school.
“Lamar High School Principal Dr. James McSwain addressed the entire student body on Wednesday to reaffirm the school’s commitment to maintaining an educational environment that is inclusive and free of racial harassment,” the statement says. “Students were reminded that participation in non-sanctioned organizations on campus is prohibited and that students who do so may be subject to disciplinary action. Campus administrators are currently investigating to identify any non-sanctioned student organizations that may be operating on campus, and will take appropriate disciplinary action if necessary. In addition, the Lamar staff will continue meeting with groups of students to discuss the school’s commitment to providing a school where all students feel welcome and safe.”
Last year, UCLA investigated a Kanye West-themed frat party after pictures of students in blackface showed up on social media.
View the controversial image of the Houston high school student in blackface and a Tupac shirt and watch KHOU’s news story below: