A racist poster asking a student to prom has gone viral, garnering negative attention and launching an investigation by Riverview High School in Sarasota, Florida.
The sign, initially shared to Snapchat, stated, “If I was Black I’d be picking cotton, but I’m white so I’m picking u 4 prom?”
A majority of Florida news outlets have refused to identify the white male student holding up the sign and have blurred out his face in reports of the photo. The Sarasota Herald-Tribune, however, identified the 18-year-old student as Noah Crowley because he is an adult.
The Snapchat post, which included a caption of two heart-eye emoji, was shared to Twitter Sunday and was posted to Facebook by senior student Erin Williams. Williams told 10 News WTSP that Crowley’s post wasn’t OK.
“This is hate speech and should not be expressed in school. We already have enough with guns in school and now you want to bring racism into it?” Williams said.
In the hours following the photo’s virality, Crowley posted a photo to Snapchat with a caption apologizing for the racist promposal.
“I want to sincerely apologize if I have offended anyone with the picture going around. That was not my intention. Anyone who knows me or [my girlfriend] knows that that’s not how we truly feel. It was a completely joke and it went too far,” Crowley said. “After reading the texts and Snapchat’s I truly see how I have offended people and I’m sorry.”
However, for Williams, Crowley’s apology showed how mindlessly her peers enable and project racism. She told the news station that she’d previously had trouble getting school administration to stop a different student from calling her the N-word, and expressed frustration with the lack of consequences.
“He didn’t think, maybe it’s racist, he thought it’s another joke. That’s how society is…students think racism is a joke and it’s not,” Williams said.
Though Facebook removed Williams’ post of the photo after it hit 12,000 shares, Riverview High School acting principal Kathy Wilks sent a letter to parents on Monday stating that William’s post was under investigation, calling the promposal “racial in nature” and stating the school “absolutely does not condone or support the message conveyed in this post.”
“The student’s post is under investigation by administration; the parents of the students involved have been contacted and appropriate action will be taken based on the investigation,” Wilks wrote. “We are focused on ensuring that Riverview High School provides a safe and secure environment for all of our students and that all students feel welcome and understand the value that they all bring to our school community.”
School district spokeswoman Tracey Beeker told the Herald-Tribune that the district is still deciding whether Crowley will face disciplinary action, though the local Sarasota NAACP chapter recommends the student not be allowed to return to any school within the district, according to ABC Action News.