Racist Halloween costumes lead to emotional meeting on racism in Cache County

Dec 3, 2021, 7:43 PM
(Screen grab taken from Thursday's Cache County School District Board meeting.  Video: Cache County...
(Screen grab taken from Thursday's Cache County School District Board meeting. Video: Cache County Utah School Board YouTube channel)
(Screen grab taken from Thursday's Cache County School District Board meeting. Video: Cache County Utah School Board YouTube channel)

NORTH LOGAN – Very raw emotions during a tense meeting about racist events that happened at Sky View High School.  Some residents tell the Cache County School District that racism is far too common, while others say the response to the incidents was also inappropriate. 

The controversy at Sky View High School came to its peak on Halloween.  One student reportedly wore KKK robes as a costume, but was stopped at the gate.  Another student is accused of wearing blackface on stage during a performance.

During Thursday’s Cache County School Board meeting, Superintendent Steve Norton told residents they have to look after the needs of all students, and that it’s not a good feeling to know aren’t having a good experience in their schools.

Norton said, “The district plans to reach out and meet with teachers, parents and students to better understand and address the challenges and difficulties related to race and racism in our schools.”

An increase in racism

Critics said the incidents at Sky View are not isolated cases.  One woman told the board students of color are told racial slurs and hear racist jokes frequently.  She also pointed to racists events happening in other school districts across northern Utah, including bullying that reportedly led to the suicide of Izzy Tichenor.

She asked, “At what point do we stop seeing these hateful incidences as innocent, individual mistakes and start seeing them for what they are?”

Another woman told board members that if the students through the costumes were funny, then the district has failed.  She believes discussions about racism need to be uncomfortable to be effective.

“At the end of the day, Black and Brown lives will always be more important than personal privileged feelings,” she said.

An inappropriate anti-racism video

District officials held an anti-racism assembly at Sky View because of the offensive Halloween costumes.  During the assembly, students were shown a music video from singer Gregory S. Miller called “400 Years,” but Superintendent Norton said the video was far more divisive than the school intended.  He said the principal’s office was flooded with calls after the assembly, and it wasn’t just the White students who were uncomfortable.

Norton said, “Many of the parents that reached out to us have minority or White children who reported feeling uncomfortable during the video with the way it represented relationships between White and Black individuals.”

Some parents say the video was designed to shame White students and portray all police officers as inherently evil.

One woman asked, “Is that how my open-hearted, kind, loving, gracious, charitable daughter who seeks to help anyone should be made to feel?”

Another resident spoke against critical race theory during the meeting, calling it “the beginning cells of mental and emotional cancer,” claiming it teaches hate more than unity.  She said she was taught a valuable lesson about racism from her friends of color in Long Beach, California.

“Something that I was taught from my experiences there and taught to me by my friends of color was that victimhood was taught, just as racism is taught.  It all has the same ugly root.  It’s hate,” she said.

District officials say the video for “400 Years” was deemed appropriate for kids over the age of 17, but many of the students at the assembly were younger than that.  They say the video was not previewed ahead of time, as it should have been.

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Racist Halloween costumes lead to emotional meeting on racism in Cache County