A high school in Red Wing, Minnesota is under fire for what a federal class action lawsuit describes as a 2009 homecoming theme called “Wigger Wednesday” during the school’s spirit week. After first rejecting a “tropical theme” a number of white students then decided it would be a fantastic idea to dress in attire that looked “black.” Their interpretation of “black” meant to wear “oversized sports Jerseys, low-slung pants, baseball hats cocked to the side, and ‘doo rags’ on their heads.”
“Wigger” is a pejorative slang term for a white person who emulates mannerisms, language, and fashions associated with African-American culture, particularly hip hop.
Via Think Progress:
Former Red Wing High School student Quera Pruitt, an African-American, filed the suit in Minnesota on behalf of an unnamed class of “all students who experienced discrimination as a result of Wigger Day” — a class that may include more than 40 people. The school principal and school district superintendent, however, still “den[y] the allegations that it has created a racially hostile environment.”
So the school is admitting that “Wigger Wednesday” happened but is denying that it created a hostile environment for black students. Really? Does the school district really not think it might be slightly uncomfortable for black students to be openly made fun of by the majority white students who think it’s hilarious to dress like their favorite gangsta rapper?
Red Wing High School is predominantly white with only five black students in their graduating class in 2009. I don’t know why the white students thought mimicking “hip hop” culture was clever but I know it’s wholly inappropriate and offensive to revert to straight stereotypes to mock an entire group of people.
I can relate with the feelings of the plaintiff’s in the class action lawsuit, as I was the only black student in my grade from kindergarten until the 9th grade. One February my freshman year of high school, I overheard two white students joke about Black History Month by calling it “Ni**er Month.” I confronted the students and informed the faculty but nothing was done as a result. I applaud Ms. Pruitt and especially her mother for not only calling out the school but taking legal action. What’s worse, there are reports that 2009 was not the first year “Wigger Wednesday” happened. Red Wing High School should have disciplined these students and called an end to this nonsense in the first instance.
Stereotypes are not funny. Not even a little bit.