Poor choices, long consequences

Published 10:22 pm Thursday, October 20, 2016

Once again, a group of teens has learned that social media takes a life of its own — and that humor is in the eye of the beholder.

On Tuesday, as part of their Spirit Week activities, many students at Nansemond River High School took part in “Character Day,” an event that encouraged them to dress as characters of their choice. A group of four girls showed up dressed in “cops and robbers” costumes — three of them wearing ersatz police uniforms and one wearing an orange jumpsuit that brought to mind a prison outfit.

But the shenanigans were not over with the simple costumes, which may or may not have been objectionable on their own. Two photos soon were posted to social media that raised the stakes on the whole affair.

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One showed the three “cops” pinning the “robber” to an exterior wall, and another showed the robber crouched in front of the three “cops.” In both photos, the girl in prison garb held a handwritten sign that stated “#blacklivesmatter.” One of the photos included the caption, “This wasn’t as racist as it looks.”

The ensuing photo shares prompted a letter to parents from the school’s principal that put forth a tortured explanation that the girls meant the #blacklivesmatter hashtag as a sign of support for the movement. School system officials went into overdrive to try to mold the narrative by noting that the sign was not a part of the original costumes and that the photos were taken outside of school hours.

Regardless of the spin that school officials are attempting to put on the matter, one thing is clear: Whatever the girls had hoped to say with their poor choice of costumes will now be lost to the hullaballoo of protests and demonstrations. Already, the Black Lives Matter movement is said to be gearing up for a demonstration at the school prior to tonight’s football game there.

Whatever this incident might say about the racial propensities of the young ladies at its center, it says much about their lack of good sense or sensitivity. We can only hope that it doesn’t serve as a flashpoint for violence at the school or in this city.

Let’s review: Your social media posts are NEVER a secret. If you’d be embarrassed or ashamed to see them on the local news, you might want to reconsider posting.