At Queen Creek High School on the outskirts of Phoenix, Az., the student council hatched a brilliant plan to energize students for prom week. That plan included Wednesday’s campus-wide “Redneck Day.”
The student council’s faculty advisor approved the Wednesday event, reports The Arizona Republic. The point was to dress like — and spoof — “Duck Dynasty,” an A&E reality TV show which follows a wealthy, eccentric Louisiana family that makes products for duck hunters.
It’s not exactly clear how dressing like a hillbilly was going to motivate anyone for prom. What did happen, though, is that one kid bedecked himself in Confederate flag regalia on “Redneck Day,” which offended some students.
Marcus Still, an African-American junior at Queen Creek, was among the insulted students. His grandfather, Ozetta Kirby, who is vice president of a local NAACP chapter, was even more insulted.
“This thing really got to Marcus,” Kirby told The Republic. “When you’re in 11th grade, that can break you down and make you feel at the bottom rung of the whole society, where everybody is being jubilant. No kid should have to go through that. We all know the connotation of ‘redneck.'”
An assistant principal asked the student who was wearing the Confederate flag — apparently like a cape — to remove it, which he did.
“It was no ill intent,” Tom Lindsey, superintendent of the Queen Creek Unified School District, told The Republic.
Lindsey suggested that the Confederate flag-wearing student didn’t understand the problem at first because he is a transplant from an unnamed state where the Confederate flag is allegedly a more ordinary sight.
The Southern Poverty Law Center also managed to get into the act.
Maureen Costello, director of the SPLC’s teaching tolerance program, sternly instructed The Republic that “the flag is a very potent symbol.”
“They’ve chosen an event that stereotypes an entire group of people,” Costello declared, “and under those circumstances, they should hardly be surprised that they also offend people.”
Meanwhile, at Sunnycrest Elementary School just beyond Seattle’s northern suburban fringes, the parent-teacher association made plans to celebrate teacher appreciation week next week with events including “Muffin Top Monday” (free staff breakfast) and “Tempt Me Tuesday” (free massages).
Of course, no teacher appreciation week would be complete without White Trash Wednesday — that special day when staff would eat free barbeque off of garbage can lids. (The reference is apparently to a local restaurant that serves barbecue this way.)
A number of parents were less than amused by PTA’s Wednesday wording, reports local ABC affiliate KOMO.
“Wow. You’re kidding, right?” one parent, Karissa Edwards, told the station. “That’s not appropriate.”
Another parent, Chris King, agreed, saying that he doubted anyone wants to be described as “white trash.”
“It was incredibly offensive,” King said. “I’m mixed race. I’m half-black and half-white, and not only do I hate the term but the term doesn’t have a place in elementary school.”
Sunnycrest Elementary’s PTA president, Amy Beckner, was in no mood to respond to questions.
“I don’t have anything to say,” she told a KOMO reporter.
The school’s principal, Rudy Baca said that the teacher appreciation events have been canceled because parents have complained.
“It was just unfortunate because I really value the relationship I have with the PTA,” Baca said. “They work so hard to support our teachers and the school.”
The principal added that over half the students at Sunnycrest reside in Latino households.