By: KDKA-TV’s Jennifer Borrasso
PETERS TOWNSHIP (KDKA) – The Peters Township School District said it is investigating allegations that members of its marching band wore black face during a performance.
The allegations claim that some of the members wore the black face during the football game on Friday night against Woodland Hills.
“Peters Township School District does not condone or permit discrimination,” the district said in a statement provided to KDKA. “The District is investigating the student costume choices from Friday night’s football game and reviewing the actions or inactions on behalf of District staff present at the game.”
Woodland Hills senior Desmon Jackson said whatever the intent was, it was hurtful. He said his teammates felt mocked.
“I felt a lot of disgust for what I saw,” Jackson told KDKA’s Jennifer Borrasso on Monday.
“Call it whatever you want,” he added. “To us, it’s black face.”
KDKA obtained a picture of two students, drum majors in the Peters Township band, marching while wearing full-body black spandex suits while others in the band appeared to wear Halloween costumes.
“Whatever your intent was, it seemed hurtful. So I was pretty upset,” Jackson said. “All I know is my heart has been hurting for the past few days.”
Those band members in spandex removed the suits before the halftime show. In a letter to the community, Woodland Hills Superintendent James Harris said there were several racially insensitive moments directed toward his students and this was not the first time.
“They wore a black bodysuit that covered their face and body, and that could be interpreted as mocking African Americans,” said Harris.
Harris said Peters Township Superintendent Jeannine French called him on Sunday, apologized, and told him she is investigating the matter.
“I don’t want to see anybody’s future ruined,” Jackson said. “But at the same time, we are 15- to 18-year-olds living in a time where this stuff should be knowledgeable.”
A friend of one of the drum majors told KDKA that the suits were not meant to be offensive. He said they were depicting Marilyn Monroe and her husband as ghosts and the suits were to give the appearance that the instruments were floating.