The theater kids at New Prague High School have learned an important lesson from the blowback from a social media post: Context matters.
One of them posted a picture of actors in KKK hoods and robes on social media on Friday, inviting people to come to their play, “The Foreigner,” the Star Tribune reports.
School cancels play after "insensitive" photo posted of New Prague High actors in KKK garb https://t.co/Hrgm4fhzKJ pic.twitter.com/JezhvqMbDk
— Paul Walsh (@walshpj) March 27, 2017
The costumes were an important part of the play, representing an evil force. But that wasn’t explained in the posting.
And that’s the problem.
“As we reviewed the social media post and conducted meetings with our theater director and concerned community members, we feel it is in the best interest of New Prague Area Schools to not present the show this weekend,” the school’s principal said in an email to parents.
“Is it disappointing? Yes, I’m disappointed for the kids that invested so much time in the play and performing,” Principal Lonnie Seifert tells WCCO. “But I think we also need to look at the big picture of our students and I’m disappointed some of our students had to go through the feelings that they went through seeing that (social media) post.”
“It makes blacks feel more and more excluded. The administration did take the right step toward inclusiveness by canceling the play,” student Morgan Dawson tells KARE 11.
Some students said the school shouldn’t have canceled the play, one saying the issue was blown out of proportion.
And therein lies the problem in the predominantly white community. Understanding the power of a Klan symbol leads to understanding why a picture of Klan “members” without context could be a problem.
“I do feel bad for the kids who were in the play and the fact that they put in all this hard work,” student Hong Kang said. “Our goal was not to have the play canceled but we are tired of people telling us what we should be offended by and what we shouldn’t be offended by.”