Earlier this week, students from Port Washington High School outside Milwaukee mocked a rival basketball player with an image that appeared to show him in blackface.
During the high school game, dozens of Port Washington fans held pictures of Nicolet standout Jalen Johnson wearing a charcoal facial mask. The image was taken from Johnson’s Instagram account and Nicolet superintendent Robert Kobylski said in a statement that the young athlete was wearing the mask to care for his skin.
“I cannot speak to the motivation or intent the Port Washington students had in displaying this photo, whether a harmless skin-care prank or a more deeply troubling, racially motivated scenario,” Kobylski’s statement read. “I can attest, however, to the fact that Jalen is more than a tremendous athlete: he is a fine, upstanding young man and deserves to be treated with respect and courtesy by all students and people, no matter what bench they are rooting for.”
A photo of Jalen Johnson held by Port Washington high school students in Wisconsin is causing backlash on social media. Some said it reminded them of blackface; others disagreed: https://t.co/M8HBHASNAf pic.twitter.com/P0Cb6HfD9U
— Heavy.com (@HeavySan) February 14, 2019
“It’s disappointing,” Port Washington principal, Eric Burke said in a statement. “We’re going to make this right. Apologies have to be made. As a principal, I apologize for our students’ actions, but our students are going to be involved in a sincere apology for what happened and the people who made this happen, there are going to be consequences.”
After the story began circulating on social media, Jalen’s older brother Rod responded on Twitter.
— Rod Johnson (@Rod_johnson21) February 14, 2019
Jalen also offered a one-word response of his own.
— Jalen Johnson (@Jalen_J23) February 14, 2019