US school makes kids wear blackface masks for play

The pupils wore the mask while reciting Paul Laurence Dunbar's 'We Wear The Mask'.
The pupils wore the mask while reciting Paul Laurence Dunbar's 'We Wear The Mask'. Photo credit: Facebook/Semone Banks

A US school has come under fire, after pupils were made to wear blackface masks during a performance for Black History Month. 

Video footage captured the moment pupils from Kindezi Charter School in Old Fourth Ward, Atlanta, held the blackface minstrel masks in front of their faces while reciting Paul Laurence Dunbar's 'We Wear The Mask'. 

The poem, first published in 1913, speaks of oppression endured by African-Americans. 

Parent Semone Banks captured the moment on video, posting it to Facebook with a caption that read: "So this happened at my kids Black History program today".

"The Kindezi School is a great school we are all like a big family however this act was not acceptable," Ms Banks says.

"I do understand that it is a poem...but the kids could have made up their own mask and used their own emojis or anything other than black faces [sic]. There is a big lesson to be learned here."

Blackface originated in minstrel shows in the 1800s, where it perpetuated negative racial stereotypes of black people. As such, modern-day usage is highly contentious.

The school has since apologised for the incident. 

"Kindezi Old Fourth Ward sincerely apologises and accepts responsibility for the hurt, anger, frustration and disappointment caused by the poor judgement we made in having students use masks that mimic blackface," the apology reads. 

The school said "it is investigating the matter and is committed to making sure this never happens again". 


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