Out of Los Angelos, California, a senior from the Harbor Teacher Preparation Academy wore a KKK mask to school one day for a history project he was doing. Apparently the history project for one of their classes at this high school had to do with historical figures and this young man choose the KKK leader Hiram Wesley Evans who was a former dentist turned klan leader or otherwise known as the "Imperial Wizard" of the national organization from 1922 to 1939. Other students also dressed up as historical figures for the project but none as outspoken and controversial as someone from a racist organization in history. Many students found this decision by the student and even more so by the teacher's permission, to be highly inappropriate. One student said : "It kind of rattled me. It was hard to believe that she would allow a klansman to walk around from her approval." The student even confronted the teacher about why she would allow such a thing and the teacher responded by saying that, she compared the Klan to the Black Panther Party, which in my opinion are two different things. So yeah, it was troubling."
Shown here is a photo of the student from the HTPA school...
This particular figure, Hiram Wesley Evans, was known for leading a mob in 1921 that branded a black man with the symbol KKK on his forheard by using acid. Evans was a ruthless leader who lead until he resigned in 1939. During his time he lead an organization that contained as many as 4 million members at one time.
Regarding this incident at the Harbor Teacher Preparation Academy, the L.A. Unified School district is investigating the incident. They did issue a statement saying, "L.A. Unified and Harbor Teacher Preparation Academy understand the extreme sensitivity around this issue and do not condone or support this type of re-enactment." At this time, no action has been taken against the student, school, or teacher.
What do you make of this incident? We live in a culture that is exceptionally sensitive and while that is the case, this is directly showcasing a racist figure. Do we excuse it based on the fact that it's for historical reference? Is this kid secretly a racist who admires and looks up this Evans and is hiding behind the cover of "history"? I suppose we won't know the answer to that last question but we walk a fine line now when it comes to what is appropriate behavior or not in our culture.