NEW ALBANY —
Yates said she also remembers how it felt in middle school as one of the only black students there and why she thought students at that age do know the meaning of racism.
“At 12, I probably knew better,” Yates said. “I went to Pineview and at 12, I knew what racism was. Me and my twin sister were the only blacks in our grade and I clearly at 12 probably knew what that meant. But whether these kids had that intent, I don’t know.”
Other members of the organization said they didn’t think 12 year olds necessarily understood what they did or why people thought the costumes and masks were racist.
Sharon Jones, director of student programs and cultural responsiveness, said Griffin met with his counselors to discuss a plan of action and information to share with students about racism. She said one of the counselors wanted to make sure it was a one-time incident.
“But [she said] these are my kids and I want them to know better, I don’t want this occurring again,” Jones said. “I want to make sure they understand the perception and what racism means because realizing that not everybody looks like you that not everybody thinks like you.”
Griffin said whether students were aware of the racist connotation of the costumes, he and other educators need to make sure students are sensitive to issues of race in their schools.
“It’s my responsibility to help them know that if they don’t, and even if they do, that’s not appropriate at Highland Hills or any school,” Griffin said. “I had eight great years of teaching at Jeffersonville High School before moving over to New Albany-Floyd, so I have a personal connection to Greater Clark and the people of Jeffersonville. It was something I should have caught prior to people being offended, I sincerely apologize for that.”