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Binghamton, New York

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In today’s episode of Are…Are The whites OK? a rural and overwhelmingly white New York town has reminded us how commonplace blatant racism is in predominately white spaces where the inhabitants of those spaces are left to their own devices.

It’s the kind of environment where high school students can organize “Gangsta Night” and no one sees a problem. Well, no one who isn’t Black, anyway.

According to the New York Times, months ago, at Windsor Central High School in Windsor, New York, white students organized a themed event at a basketball game where they dressed as Crips and the Bloods complete with accessories that allowed them to be walking Black stereotypes without a thought in their head about the people they were caricaturing.

They may have been trying to imitate Blackness, but based on the Times’ description, it was the whitest sh** ever.

“Some had fake teardrop tattoos, others wore shower caps, white tank tops, and low-rise jeans that exposed their underwear,” the Times reported. “One proclaimed he was from the Bronx and another wore a thick chain around his neck. They flashed hand signals and snapped photos and shared them on Snapchat.”

Apparently, whiteness doesn’t rain in upstate New York—it pours. 

Here’s another thing the Times noted that wouldn’t surprise anyone who’s never debated whether daily showers are necessary:

“This is why when images of ‘Gangsta Night,’ a student-organized event at a basketball game, surfaced online this winter and spurred a local debate as to whether they were racist, many white residents here seemed surprised and defensive, while people of color in town interviewed for this story were insulted, and yet not surprised at all.”

This is basically a microcosm of what America generally is—white people being racist then getting fragile when they’re called out on it, and people of color being aggravated but unsurprised. 

Windsor Central High School has only one Black staff member, Kashif Summers, the coach of the girls’ basketball team. He said at least half his all-white team participated in the event. (I could be petty and point out how white a school must be when there are no Black people on the basketball team, but I’ma chill.)

Summers said that after the caucasity calamity event was over, he messaged the students on the team’s group chat to express how it offended him. He said no one responded, which makes sense because while white folks love Black culture, caring about Black people tends to be too much of a hassle to wrap their color-redacted minds around.

But it’s not just the students, of course, it’s also white parents who defended their spawn as innocent and told Black people to get TF over it.

“Some of these adults are saying, ‘Oh, you’re just making a fun thing that kids do over clothes as a major issue,’” Summers said. “But it is a major issue. Let me ask you a question: Are you going to be looked at as a threat in those clothes and get stopped by the police and harassed? If I do it, I’ll get ripped apart.”

The Times noted that “on Facebook, a woman from Binghamton wrote that students were just trying to have fun and that Mr. Summers, the coach, needed to relax,” and “another commented that students should be able to wear what they want and that restricting clothing styles to a particular race was in itself racist.”

As Summers eluded to in his comments, Black people lack the completion for protection—but booooy, do these white folks possess the pigment to be ig’nant. 

So many white folks in America operate under the mentality that if it’s not a problem for them, it’s not a problem at all. Summers obviously wasn’t the only Black person who had a problem with the event. Students and former students who spoke to the Times not only expressed their disdain for their hueless and clueless classmates and their tasteless and racist event, but they said it was part of a larger issue of racism in a school where out of 1,626 students, only 22 are Black.

Isaac Hyde, a Black former student who graduated from the school in 2016, said he was constantly called racial slurs by white students who were never reprimanded for it.

“The teachers didn’t comment on anything; they wouldn’t stop the racism,” he said, adding that he remembered teachers also stereotyping Black people as drug dealers and thieves.

More from the Times:

One current Black student who asked not to be identified recalled that a white male classmate sitting next to her called her a racial slur. The teacher told him to move desks but also told her to get a tougher skin. Later in the hallway, the same classmate called her a “cotton picker,” and she heard others talking about dressing up like the Ku Klux Klan for Halloween, she recalled.

JaVanté Owens, a Black student who graduated in 2017, said she was cast as the ghost of a white soldier in drama class, and her instructor kept making her put talcum powder on her face to look like her white classmates.

“The atmosphere was the most racist and toxic I’ve ever encountered in my entire life,” she wrote on Facebook. “It really affects me even to this day.”

Apparently, the school district investigated the event and found there were some dress code violations, but ultimately nothing was done about the event. The school had also had “Hillbilly Night” and other themed events in the past, so that made this racist sh** OK.

Basically, this was a Dear White People script unfolding in real life.


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