The caption on the photo, reportedly taken last Friday, says, "we got us one," a seemingly oblique reference to the white lynch mobs that murdered southern blacks with near-impunity during the days of legalized racial segregation known as "Jim Crow."
It's common in US high schools to have themed "spirit weeks" leading up to major events, such as a big football game with a rival school or an autumn harvest ball, during which students are encouraged to dress outlandishly according to different days' themes during the week. Common theme days might be wearing the school's colors, going to class in pajamas or wearing silly hats.
Some reports have said that the photo captured "Redneck Day" antics, but Moody High School in Alabama's St. Clair County says they didn't organize a "Redneck Day" but a "Destination Day" last Friday, in which students from each grade dressed up as one of four destinations: Hawaii; Dallas, Texas; New Orleans, Louisiana; or Hollywood, California. We guess this is supposed to be Texas?
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***Swipe*** This is from Moody High School in Moody Alabama. Every Friday during football season the students dress up, I guess as a spirit thing to excite the students. This past Friday was “Redneck Day.” Why you’d have a redneck day in 2018, is beyond me, but I’ll let that go for now. This photo is circulating with the students. One of those students (who shall remain nameless) happens to be a follower of mine and sent this to me. I sent it to the main office at the school, to the PTO and I’ve tagged several local news stations in Alabama. If you swipe through, you’ll see parents defending their kids who are in this photo, which I find disgusting. “This photo will follow them around forever!” “It was the black kid’s idea!” “My son is not a racist!” Ummm, I hate to break it to you cupcake, but everything about this photo is racist. And I don’t care if “the black kid” suggested it, why would anyone agree to stand with their foot on another human, with that kind of caption?!? Even in Alabama, which has a reputation for such things, as does my home state, this isn’t okay. The not racist thing to do is to stop defending your own offspring and concern yourself with what this type of behavior does to the other students of color who see it, or to their younger siblings and parents. I think they certainly deserve better than this.,Any school should drop the hammer on things like this AND redneck day! It’s 2018! Your vice principal is a black woman! Do the right thing and let this be a learning experience for these kids AND their parents! This should not be tolerated in and form, in ANY state! I’m in Tennessee and I see many trashy racist things but if this happened at my kids schools, I would be all up in their business until this was handled. Every kid in that photo should, at the very least, be suspended. It’s a learning experience @moodyhighschool Don’t pass it up. You have a responsibility here. The rest of your students and their parents are waiting….. @moodyspanishclub @moodydevilsden @mhs.seniorcouncil2019 @moodyfca @mhsmajos @moodyhscheer
As you can imagine, social media users blasted the image after it was posted on Instagram Monday.
"It's disgusting, disgraceful and disturbing to see this picture and claim that there's nothing racist about it," said one commenter, according to AL.com. "Why are there so many people in this country so proud of their ignorance and backward thinking?"
The school's principal, Christopher Walters, gave a contradictory statement to AL.com on Monday, saying, "We have confirmed that all students involved are friends and participated voluntarily in creating the picture, which they say was intended to be a 'joke'."
He continued, saying, "The picture is offensive and unacceptable, and it does not reflect the values of our school, our students or our community. Notably, I also don't believe that the picture reflects the values of the students involved. There is another picture circulating on social media taken of the same group of students at the same time demonstrating that the students are friends. The students involved clearly made poor decisions, and we will take appropriate disciplinary action."
The second photo referenced, which was given to AL.com, shows the same students, all standing, smiling with arms around one another.
"At Moody High School, we will continue to emphasize our commitment that all students be treated with dignity, respect, and compassion so that all students feel welcome and gain the knowledge necessary to become college and career ready and to be good citizens in our community," Walters said.
Although the students were not identified by any statement, two of them have come forward with statements of their own. Austin Glass, one of the white students in the photo, told CBS 42 Monday that reactions had been "out of proportion" to the nature of the incident, but noted, "If I could go back, I wouldn't have took the picture. I probably wouldn't have even dressed up for that day."
The mother of one of the white students told the station her family had received death threats after the photo was posted, saying over tears that she was "so sick of the threats and the bull crap."
Nick Fuller, the black student being trod on in the photo, told the station he was sorry for offending people. "I'm thinking about it now, but I didn't think about it when we first took the photos."