Parents are furious at an Arizona high school, after their kids dressed up in hooded Ku Klux Klan robes for a school play. But the school insists that it meant no harm, and that the play isn’t actually racist.
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A high school play at the Arizona State University Preparatory Academy in Phoenix last Friday shocked parents, who saw their children appear on stage in full KKK regalia.
“Three students dressed as the KKK walked down the middle of the assembly as part of a play,” one parent told ABC15 Arizona, adding that “they were in hooded robes.”
However, if the parents had read the play – American playwright Larry Shue’s ‘The Foreigner,’ they would have known what to expect.
‘The Foreigner’ is a dark comedy, and a staple of amateur theater. In one of its climactic scenes, the heroes have to defend themselves against a Klan mob. The Klansmen are portrayed as buffoons, albeit dangerous and cunning ones. Eventually, they are made fun of and driven away.
Nevertheless, parents were still taken aback at the sight of their children in KKK robes.
“We can talk about racial prejudice, we can talk about the insensitivity, but to have our children put on the robes and assume the characters, it’s wrong,” one parent said. “There is no justification for it.”
The school stuck by its decision to put on the play, which was chosen by students themselves.
“We apologize if anyone was caught by surprise with the appearance of these characters. We are confident that a fair reading of the text of the play, and a fair interpretation of the intentions of students who performed it, reveals no endorsement of bigotry,” it said in a statement.
The angry parent wasn’t entirely convinced. “At least inform the parents, give us the ability to make that decision,” he said. “The KKK walked into my kid’s school Friday and I didn’t get to stop it.”
While displays of racial prejudice and bigotry are frowned upon in modern America, genuine critiques of racism can get caught in the crossfire.
Author Harper Lee’s 1960 classic ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ has been pulled from high school curriculums across the country for its “uncomfortable language.” Despite a core anti-racist message, Lee’s period-correct use of the n-word saw the book banned. Laura Ingalls Wilder’s ‘Little House on the Prairie’ series has met a similar fate, with Wilder’s name scrubbed from one book award earlier this year for her depictions of Native Americans.
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