Pennsylvania teenager stirs outrage with racist 'picking cotton' homecoming proposal

On Thursday, WTAE reported that a Pittsburgh-area school district is investigating after a social media post circulated showing a white teenage boy asking a girl to prom with a racist sign making fun of slavery.

"The district sent out a letter to its community saying they are aware of a social media post that's been circulating to the student body. The picture shows a male student holding a sign that says, 'If I was Black I would be picking cotton, but I'm white, so I'm picking you for homecoming,'" said the report. "A female student is standing beside him, making an obscene gesture."

Parents were quick to speak out, with one saying she was "absolutely disgusted" and another saying, "I feel that families of color are going to feel not welcome." According to the report, the Pine-Richland School District responded with a letter saying, "The district is aware of a social media post involving a Pine-Richland High School student. The language in that post is highly offensive. We are working to take appropriate next steps. The district values a school culture that is safe, supportive and welcoming for all students.”

This was later followed up with a second message from the district, saying, "The Pine-Richland School District is opposed to racism in any form. We stand with our black and brown families. It is our goal to strengthen a positive culture for every student at Pine-Richland. The foundation of learning is established in a safe and supportive environment. That environment should embrace diversity in all forms. That includes differences in race, gender, religion and more."

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Similar incidents have happened all over the country.

Last year alone, social media posts showed that exact same "picking cotton" joke, verbatim, being used on another homecoming invite at a high school in Olathe, Kansas, and on a prom invite at a high school in Big Lake, Minnesota. In May, another teenager in Aliso Viejo, California concocted a prom invite with a photo of George Floyd, who was murdered by a police officer who kneeled on his neck for nine minutes, with the message, "If you went to prom with me, it would take my breath away."

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