Atlanta Superintendent Meria Carstarphen urged a charter school to finish its investigation into a student performance that featured blackface masks and called for “appropriate consequences.”
The Kindezi School at Old Fourth Ward sparked an uproar in late March after a parent posted a video on social media of second graders reciting the poem “We Wear the Mask,” in which the students held up masks that mimicked the makeup worn by white minstrel performers beginning in the 19th-century. Kindezi operates the school within the Atlanta school district and has promised to provide cultural competency training to teachers.
Roughly 10 Kindezi officials and parents addressed the controversy during the Atlanta school board meeting Monday. The parents voiced strong support for the school, and executive director Dean Leeper apologized for the “pain” caused and said the school will wrap up its investigation Tuesday.
Carstarphen called the performance “offensive” and said she shares in the community outrage: “I love Kindenzi, but I am struggling with this…; If there are any further demonstrations of conduct like this there will be sanctions against the school at my recommendation to the board. The board can decide to do what it sees is appropriate. And we are looking forward to seeing the outcome of that investigation and appropriate consequences for the people, the adults, who were involved that led to such a performance that apparently a lot of people in the school knew about but did not raise questions… .”