by Cassy Fiano | September 4, 2017 8:33 pm
On the surface, it seems to be an ordinary picture. Two girls, wearing cheerleading uniforms, stand next to each other sporting huge grins. Two boys stand next to them. So, why is the picture being slammed as racist?
The two girls in question were cheerleaders for the Indianapolis Colts and the two boys were students at Western High School in Russiaville. The cheerleaders were there to talk about blood donations and they also took some time to talk with the students, take pictures and sign autographs. But the boy standing next to the cheerleader on the right, Leanna, apparently wasn’t appreciative.
Leanna is black and the student standing next to her is white. He posted the picture to Snapchat and wrote the caption, “Of course [another student’s name] put me next to the n*****.” The photo and its caption were screenshotted and quickly went viral, spreading like wildfire across Facebook and other social media sites.
Western High School principal Rick Davis immediately apologized and said that “severe and significant” disciplinary action had been taken. “We are so incredibly sorry to everyone who has been hurt by this message and this mistake that this student made,” he said. “That student and everyone else associated with it, especially the cheerleader, is dealing with the fallout. It was actually a very positive, great celebration that unfortunately was tarnished by this one student’s actions. That is not who we are or what we represent. It’s an unexpected punch in the gut. How could one of our students do this?”
Davis also claimed that the student is remorseful and ashamed. For her part, Leanna said that she forgives the student and hopes that he learned from the situation.
“He made a mistake. I don’t think that it was personal,” she said. “It was just in my nature to forgive him, automatically, and pray for him and pray for everybody who was hurt by it. My message to him would be to first forgive yourself. Don’t be too hard on yourself. You made a mistake, and he apologized for that, and I thank him but to not do it again.”
Still, that didn’t mean that it didn’t have an affect on her. “There’s some hurt,” she admitted, “but I really have to commend my parents for the way they raised me, they prepared me for this. Despite how people treat you, you’re to always treat others with kindness and love.”
As for what she hoped the public took away from this, her response might surprise some. “Find forgiveness and treat others the way you would want to be treated,” she said. “Stop trying to fight hate with hate. Start trying to fight it with love.”
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