As the United States is taking steps backward in history by trying to oppress minorities, many privileged people are starting to think that they can do or say whatever offensive things they want to without consequences. This seems to be the case with a group of boys from Baraboo High School, in Baraboo, Wisconsin.
A group of Baraboo High School boys from the Class of 2019 posed with the Nazi salute in one of their prom pictures. This high-resolution photo was taken by a professional photographer who suggested to the boys that they pose as such. After receiving backlash from this group picture which he had posted on his website, he took the picture down and issued an interesting apology, in which he seemed to claim that the people who were offended were jerks.
Although this photo was taken last spring, it gained national attention on November 12, 2018, after Jules Suzdaltsev, a contributor for Vice, reposted the prom picture from Carly Sidey on Twitter. He openly asked for an explanation for why this horrible picture was taken and posted by a Baraboo student. Quickly after, he received many DMs from students from Baraboo High School who explained their instances with racism from these boys during their time in high school.
One female classmate of mixed race was called a n****r in the caption on another classmate's Instagram post, and the school did nothing when she reported it with clear evidence.
Another female classmate was harassed for not being a Trump supporter and for being a feminist by one of the boys in the picture. He posted pictures on his Snapchat story of her, and when she confronted him he posted another photo of her saying "I do what I want." When she reported that she was being harassed to the office, they just asked him to take the stories down and that was it.
Jules also received screenshots from a Snapchat video of two Latino students walking down the hall, which white boys captioned "dirty Mexicans in bound." Other messages from students at Baraboo High School messaged Jules about instances of boys shouting "white power" and using the n-word in the halls, using Native American words inappropriately, demonstrating a clear bias against the Black Lives Matter movement and verbally harassing LGBTQ+ students.
One of the students who messaged Jules wrote of a boy who wore a Confederate sweatshirt to school every day. I, myself, attended a small town high school in Wisconsin, and there was also a boy like that at my school.
Such clothing at my school was deemed to be protected by freedom of speech, but yet students could not wear shirts with curse words or drug or alcohol references on them. Girls were sent home for their dresses being too short because our administration believed that legs were more distracting to students' education than racism.
Based on these boys' shameful prom picture and anonymous reports of racism by fellow classmates, it seems to be that they are able to be racist and sexist freely in the school hallways with no repercussions. This, sadly, isn't surprising in our country today.
This picture was not just a ill-thought one-time joke. This picture is a reflection of the boys' belief in them being superior because they are white. This is not okay.
With a little glimmer of hope for humanity, the boy in the upper right-hand corner of the prom photo chose to not participate in the salute when the picture was taken. He refused because it was against his morals and he did not believe in what it stood for. In addition, he admitted having been bullied by the other boys in the picture since middle school.
The Baraboo School District condemned the photo posted from one of their students' Twitter accounts:
In addition, they posted a copy of the letter that was sent out to the parents of BHS students.
I strongly believe that one of the biggest problems in education in the United States is that it refuses to directly address racism and hatred towards other races in our history. Instances of abuse towards other races are simply mentioned and brushed off, without directly and thoroughly addressing why those instances happened, and how they're still happening today.
Our schools need to do better. Brushing off clear racism and hatred is unacceptable and detrimental to those experiencing such from their fellow classmates. For being a country that was taken over by immigrants, it's sad how unaccepting it is of people of different skin color. Each of us individually needs to do better, our schools need to do better, our government needs to do better and society needs to do better. We need to stop taking steps back and start moving forward into a future in which we are all equal and treated as such.