A high school in Waverly, New York thought it’d be a bright idea to reenact the domestic violence incident between Chris Brown and Rihanna, in brownface, during a pep rally. Three white students from Waverly High School planned and performed in the parody, which was previously approved by the high school staff. Matt Dishler, a 2006 graduate of Waverly, broke the story on CNN’s iReport.

Several students were offended by the incident, deeming it racist and sexist. Former Waverly High School student, Vlad Chituc, told CNN:

“I think it’s unconscionable that such blatant racism has been tacitly approved two years in a row. The administration should be creating an environment where minorities are welcome, not the butts of racist jokes that make light of domestic violence.”

But many don’t see the incident as racist. Jezebel reports:

“In fact, the lion’s share of the iReport comments—along with students’ and alumni’s Facebook statuses and tweets—have been in defense of the routine, accusing those who have reacted negatively to the story as being “idiots,” “absurd,” and “ignorant.” Mostly, they seem to be angry at the allegations of racism. And sure, it’s true that the students who performed the skit are only kids, and their poor choice of “costume” could perhaps have more to do with ignorance than ill intentions.”

Whether their intentions were racist or not, brownface, with its history of cultural degradation, and domestic violence is are no laughing matter. The students, and the school who approved the performance, should be ashamed.

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