Opinions are split in a Kansas town after three high school boys dressed as “illegal aliens” for their school’s “Area 51 Day.”
The boys dressed up in stereotypical Mexican streetwear on Thursday during Labette County High School’s spirit week, with one of them painting his face brown, CBS affiliate KOAM reported
The students have since apologized, but that hasn’t put an end to a community debate about their actions in Altamont.
According to KOAM, some locals feel the display was racist. Sources told the TV station that the students have received death threats.
“They buttoned the top of their pearl snaps to represent Mexican culture attire, but doing the brown face was just completely unacceptable,” Kylea Palmer, a former student at Labette, told KOAM in an interview.
However, others feel the whole situation is being blown out of proportion.
“I mean, of course they didn’t think it through, or they would’ve thought about the consequences, but at the same time, there was no discrimination on the kids part,” Altamont resident Jeffrey Davis told KOAM.
Superintendent John Wyrick said in a statement that the students involved had been “held responsible for their inappropriate actions.”
“[T]his isolated incident is not indicative of Labette County High School or any of our schools, environments that promote respect for all of our staff members and students,” Wyrick added.
The local controversy comes at a time when Americans are divided over immigration. As President Donald Trump seeks a crackdown at the border, New York City last month declared that using the term “illegal alien” in a derogatory way is illegal and punishable by a fine of up to $250,000.
Area 51 Day
The school’s “Area 51 Day” appears to have been inspired by a satirical event called “Storm Area 51 Day,” which went viral earlier this year.
The stated plan was for participants to meet up on Sept. 20 at the Area 51 Alien Center rest stop to plan their infiltration of the Air Force base, where some believe evidence of intelligent alien life is stored.
The event was canceled in mid-September due to logistical and safety concerns, with a number of festivals taking its place.
- A local woman is interviewed about a brown face controversy.: Screen grab