School learns the hard way: Student actors and KKK robes are a bad fit

There is, perhaps, a debate to be had on the matter of artistic expression and racist symbols in history, but it’s inarguable that if a school district puts on a play featuring students in KKK robes, it should see the backlash coming from miles away.

A Sioux Falls, S.D., school didn’t.

Roosevelt High School got all of its performances of “The Foreigner” in before district officials apologized for the play, which depicts an English gentleman, pretending he can’t understand English, touring rural Georgia. [Edit to add: The play mocks the KKK members]

A Sioux Falls nonprofit posted about the play on Tuesday after an African-American member of the community took exception to the students in KKK garb, the Argus Leader reported.

Posted by Establishing Sustainable Connections on Monday, March 4, 2019

The school district apologized and said vetting procedures were not properly followed, but otherwise did not offer insight into how the play was selected, rehearsed, and performed without anyone apparently noticing it might be a problem, particularly since the school district itself promoted the play on its Facebook page.

“The district has guidelines in place for vetting plays and other such works. The district failed to follow those guidelines,” the district said in a statement to the newspaper. “We sincerely regret this and will continue to take action in our quest to be a culturally responsive school community.”

The same play forced the principal at New Prague High School, southwest of the Twin Cities metro area, to cancel the play after a photo of students dressed in white robes and captioned “I think you’re gonna want to come to the spring play” were posted on social media.

At the time, a lot of people didn’t see the problem.

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