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Highline School District investigating photo of student dressed in ‘black face’ at high school dance

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TUKWILA, Wash. — The practice of white actors and singers using black make-up in the 19th century to represent a stereotype of black people was criticized as being racist.

The Highline School District is investigating the photo of a girl at a Raisbeck Aviation High School dance in Tukwila who appeared to be dressed in ‘black face,’ and why school staff allowed it to happen.

The girl in question reportedly was dressed as a character from the movie “Napoleon Dynamite.”

WATCH the video report:

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37 comments

  • Olivia Shiffer

    This is absolutely ridiculous. I know the girl in question and she is a very fun-loving person who has no intent to insult anyone. She is very accepting of all her peers. Also, this is a COSTUME FROM A MOVIE. Would it be racist for a black student to want to dress up as Harry Potter? No. Discrimination goes both ways. I also noticed that this picture came from Snapchat, a personal picture messaging app. This was clearly a fun dance picture sent to a friend. How and why did the news get a hold of this? An innocent night has been twisted and overblown into a racial offense that doesn’t exist.

    • Tony H

      You must be a relative to compare wearing blackface (which is currently and historically offensive) to Harry Potter? It’s also safe to assume that you believe that people should “get over it” instead of educate when a situation occurs.

      She should be called out and it’s obvious that she knew what she was doing.

      Defending her is bs!

      • Victoria B.

        WOAH WOAH WOAH. For one, I can state that neither Olivia nor I are relatives of the student. For one, hell yeah they should get over it! This was a costume for an event, a costume which no one except Q13 Fox (the most reliable and truthful news station available to the public) took offense to. This was innocent and if anyone within the school took offense to her costume, it should have been dealt with inside the school. This is no public matter. This is a pathetic attempt to attack Raisbeck Aviation HS and it’s students. There was no intended racism, let me once again state that this is a COSTUME. Had there been any historical reference to “black face” it would have been stopped immediately. Fox reporters should not be welcome on school campuses after the harassment that the students and principal of this school faced regarding this “incident.”

        Your proposition to educate intrigues many of us who are angry about this issue. Sure, if there is something students should know about this issue, they need to be educated. The student had no harmful intent. I assume there is no acquaintance between you and the student because if there was then you would understand that she is extremely respectful, accepting, and understanding.

        This is a school function that has no place on the news. None of the students faces were shown because all of them, including those interviewed, are underage and were abruptly interpreted, yes Fox News thought this important enough to disrupt classes that were in session, to answer questions regarding this topic. Many of the students that were interviewed were angered by the manipulation of their responses or the complete disregard of answers that would have much better fit this piece of “news.”

        The RAHS community is not one that attacks it’s students and staff and it is felt that this article does just that. Not one student or administrator will accuse this girl of doing wrong. Everyone will work to better educate the entire community of the school and will do that best without the help of Q13 and it’s viewers.

      • Liam C.

        Seriously dude, go find a bigger issue to get worked up about. She was dressed up as a character from a movie, not trying to offend anyone. You may forget that blackface involved someone not only painting themselves, but also acting in ways to offend black people. This was certainly not an attempt to offend anyone. When there’s so much other racism in this world, do you really think its necessary for you to get worked up over a 16 year old at a dance?

      • Will M.

        Maybe it wasn’t the most face searingly brilliant idea anyone’s heard of…. but seriously, you can make a conscious decision get offended or not. I for one wouldn’t be offended in the slightest if a darker skinned person (no matter what race they are) painted their face white to impersonate Harry Potter, and I don’t think Olivia would either. If people continue to make an issue of minor things like this instead of laughing it off, all it serves to do is drive a wedge between races.

    • Jennifer

      Your absolutely ridiculous Olivia. To think that this is not disrespectful in anyway, shape and form is a slap in the face. With all of the issues going on within our society and race being at the top as one of the main issue, what makes you think this is ok? If she wanted to dress as a character why could she not just dress in the clothing without coloring her skin to portray a Black person? I highly doubt a Black person who would want to portray Harry Potter would color their skin white to look like him, maybe the scar on the head but nothing beyond that. Its the principle of the matter and what she did represents a long history of racism, hate and pain for not just Black people but many others within this society. She may be a good person but her actions question her moral values and the level of respect she has for her own peers. I’m pretty sure she would be highly offended if a Black person whitened their skin and dressed as her.

      • beachvictoria

        It is within your right to defend your ideas, there’s no need to accuse Olivia for defending hers.

        This is a very controversial topic over the actions of a 16 year old, yes, 16. She has complete respect for her peers and has the complete backing of students and staff of all races. Her action, of dressing up to portray a character from a very popular movie, does not display her moral values. Nor does the way this article spins the situation.

        Different people interpret racism differently. While many may feel that this was a blatant act of racism, many do not. 5 days ago this student was at a school dance to lighten the spirits of many after the semester’s end. Right now, she probably has no knowledge this article exists and will be appalled that people interpreted her actions to be hateful. Tomorrow, there will most likely be a statement from administration going out to the entirety of the Highline School District concerning this topic.

        It is in the best interest of the students to let this issue be handled internally.

      • Liam C.

        *You’re, also, seriously? “She may be a good person but her actions question her moral values and the level of respect she has for her own peers” What the heck is that supposed to mean? She’s a 16 year old dressing up as a character from a movie. You may be forgetting that blackface wasn’t just people painting themselves black, it involved singing and acting in ways specifically to offend black people, this is hardly similar. I encourage you to find a bigger racial issue than a 16 year old simply dressing as a character from a movie.

      • Will M.

        For the love of god people, pick up your twisted panties and take them to some Youtube comment section. Obviously, we all understand the history of blackface and how racially offensive it was at its time in the vaudeville circuit. But that was so much more than just paint; it was actions that were intended to racially stereotype and offend. This is one massive reason we can never move past a race barrier: people always want to make a bigger deal out of things then they actually are and are not able to move on. STOP MAKING A BIGGER DEAL OF THINGS THAT ARE PETTY. Obviously it wasn’t the… best idea I’ve witnessed but it was a fairly harmless in nature. If the African American individuals at the dance weren’t offended (I know them and they weren’t), then you have absolutely no right to. Cry me a river, build me a bridge, and get the hell over it.

        • Will M.

          I apologize if it seems a bit insensitive to say it, and it may seem harsh to. But this issue is much more internal than people realize. The person in question is extremely nice person, and it’s unfortunate that people go straight to the blatant racism card. Examine the issue in depth before y’all make judgement on people and an issue as a whole

      • Murphy

        Honestly, while it may be disrespectful in any case is valid, however, the fact that is was at a school and a private dance event for students there shows that there was no need for Q13 to encroach on the privacy of our students and the dance. The fact that you are getting so worked up over something that no one within the school had an issue with is appalling. If the object went public, I could understand, but encroaching on the privacy of a school dance and then having the audacity to call a young girl out on something she had no idea of is baffling to me, how do you even have time for this? Churlish.

    • M

      The difference is, no one would put on “white-face” to be Harry Potter. They would just be “black Harry Potter” or “Asian Harry Potter.”
      It may have been innocent in intention, but to defend it is wreckless. Jumping down someone’s throat when they’re genuinely ignorant isn’t the best course of action either, but this is what people do on comment threads.

      • Victoria B.

        Defending a matter that is being wrongly portrayed by a news station, disgraced or otherwise, is not wrong. No one will stop defending this issue. The news reporter had no permission to be on campus from the Highline School District, which he claimed to have. He lied to students and used profanity to bring you a report that no one who was at the event and witnessed the girl’s costume had a say in. The interviewed students weren’t at the event.

        Take it how you may, this article is garbage. The topic of racism, however, is very serious and RAHS is treating it as such.

  • BD4

    More race baiting… Leave it alone already. Go solve the more serious black on black crime issues than make a high school costume an issue.

  • BHK2

    Jeff Van Sant, the Q13 reporter responsible for this story, began his interview with the students, by stating “I really don’t give a sh%* about blackface, but what do you think?”

  • K.

    The so-called “reporter” who showed up on the RAHS campus was doing so illegally. He interviewed minors then used and manipulated their voices without their consent. It is sad that a high schooler must remind the local news station that such actions are ILLEGAL. It is pitiful that this reporter, Jeff, finds it more important to report on the costume at a school dance than to report on say the lack of safety on public transit, abuse in homes, gang violence, or maybe perhaps how he has his own head up his ass. To all those who say that this is a racial offence it should be noted that nothing about her demeanor changed during the dance. She made no attempt to portray racial stereotypes, and an anonymous person on Facebook whom does not even have the conviction enough to admit to their feelings being hurt nor is currently involved at the school was the one to make the rash decision to send a personal picture to a news station rather than confronting the girl in question or talk with school administration. No one who currently attends the school has yet to express their offence and most found the COSTUME amusing as it never meant any offence. She simply used a liquid foundation darker than her skin tone to try and portray a character the same way others use lighter foundations to portray other characters. How are we to ever make progress if we get our underwear in knots every time someone does something vaguely offensive. This is a sad excuse for news.

  • Tatyana Jenkins

    Before I state my opinion I would like to inform you that I am not a relative of this student, but I have known this student for three years now going on four.

    Honestly this has all blown out of proportion.This is simply a COSTUME from a movie “Napoleon Dynamite.”
    I would like to put it out there that this student is very involved in and out of the school, more than any peer that I have ever seen. She is such an outgoing person and to the best of my knowledge most students think highly of her.

    She was dressed up as Lafawnduh from “Napoleon Dynamite” who was an African American. This student colored her face so she would look more like the character to make it blatantly obvious who she was DRESSING UP as. In no way shape or form was this student trying to emulate blackface.

    I do want to make it known that I understand where some may see this as extremely racist and unsound in the sense that In the 19th century Caucasians would paint their faces black to portray themselves as slaves due to the fact that African Americans during the 19th century weren’t in the entertainment industry or should I say weren’t allowed in the Entertainment Industry until the 20th century. This is seen as racist because blackface was used as a part of the Minstrel Shows which imitated Black musical and dance, with a blending of savage parody of African Americans with genuine fondness for African American cultural forms.

    I am an African American and Caucasian female who doesn’t take offensive to this. I feel many pay no attention to the fact that this 16 year old had no intent on portraying blackface, she was dressing up as a female character from a movie. This student wasn’t imitating African Americans in a negative way, nor did she mock African Americans.

    As for the lovely Q13 Fox Network who is known for putting out false stories and or twisting stories, they’re at it again. Q13 is simply blowing this out proportion, you didn’t interview the student who was dressed up as Lafawnduh, but instead you simply jumped to the conclusion that she was intentionally being racist and being a blackface which is absolutely wrong. You were trespassing on private property! Even though RAHS is a public school, we’re sitting on The Museum of Flight’s property. In addition you also failed to tell our school officials that you were stepping foot on school property nor did you sign into the office in order to interact with our kids and not to mentions the ones you “interviewed” were minors.

    You’re making this a big deal out of something that doesn’t have to be. Also I would like to note that you’re interfering with our learning environment and became a huge distraction, not to mention you interviewed to students during our class time. Thank you oh so much, I know the kids at RAHS really appreciate it. Also the fact that Q13 has nothing better to do besides try and ruin the school’s reputation with some nonsense such as this when there are bigger issues in the world than this is….quite unprofessional if you ask me.

  • Aunt Jemima

    Please stop making up things to be outraged over. You’re embarrassing everyone that comes in contact with this shit you’re spewing. Her costume isn’t racist. YOU are, ya lazy sad sack excuses for journalists

  • Pilar Wienke

    I want to know if Q13 crew had permission by the school staff to be on premise interviewing students. DID YOU HAVE PERMISSION ???? I am a RAHS parent and I am concern about your action.

      • Pilar Wienke

        This is simply wrong and I do not appreciate the media Q13Fox Entering the premises without the consent of the staff or permission from the parents to interview the students. Q13Fox needs to apologize publicly and admit that it was inappropriate on their part.

    • Will M.

      Not only that, but the reporter said unprofessional and frankly inappropriate things in a vain attempt to try to get students to say something that would procure a story, far removed from any professional would do.

      • Pilar Wienke

        I hope the school and district take action against the TV station. I am going to follow up with Mr. Kelly. This is unacceptable.

    • Nick T.

      Because this issue is not about one student. When Q13 does something like this it is not only intrusive and illegal but it hurts our reputation. We are coming to defend a member of our community who is being wrongly attacked, as anyone would/should do.

  • Ethnic Mom

    This was a school event and she was made up as Lafonda a strong, sexy black female and her date went as Kip, a physically weak geeky white guy who are crazy in love and ultimately run away together. Napoleon Dynamite is a love story and If you watched the movie you would know. This was a tribute to one of the most awesome couples in one of the awesome geek movies in history. What has happened here is another example of how some people want to keep racism alive and will make something out of nothing to do so. Fox should be sued for trespassing. Aren’t there laws that keep these parasitic news reporters from interviewing children without a parents consent? I don’t think an apology is going to cut it. They need pay out.

  • King 5 News is Better

    Lets attack a high school girl instead of reporting on important hings like idk maybe hmmmm ISUS? Well I keep forgetting this isn’t King 5 so it isn’t news.

    • Pilar Wienke

      Q13 you had no right to enter the premises and talk to students. We are investigating your actions. All you care for is ratings and making it sound like the school did something wrong. Parents like me want to you to stay off the school premises.