Students Dressed in KKK Hooded Robes Shocks Arizona Parents

Students Dressed in KKK Hooded Robes Shocks Arizona Parents December 11, 2018

On an average afternoon at an Arizona high school, students joined together for an all-school assembly. The school drama club presented a play to the teenagers near the end of the day. Suddenly three hooded men dressed in Ku Klux Klan costumes walked down the aisles. Students sat shocked watching the events unfold. Following the production, parents of the high school expressed outrage for the display of bigotry and hatred at a high school assembly.

According to a report on ABC15 Phoenix, the events went down last week. During an all-school  assembly at ASU Preparatory Academy Phoenix, the drama club put on a play called “The Foreigner.”

Near the end of the play, three students wearing full KKK hooded costumes walked down the middle of the aisle to the stage. Several students were outraged seeing the boys in the costumes.

In a highly divisive time in America, symbols that are representative of bigotry and hate-crimes cause many to have visceral reactions. Parents of students at the school say that no one at the school told them ahead of time that the play contained KKK characters.

The play in question, “The Foreigner” is a two-act play by Larry Shue. The play takes place at a rural fishing lodge in Georgia and revolves around two Englishmen named Froggy and Charlie. In the play, Charlie refuses to talk during their stay at the lodge because he’s shy, depressed and upset his wife is ill.

Because Charlie refuses to talk, Froggy tells other guests that Charlie can’t speak English. When guests learn that Charlie doesn’t speak English, they tell him their darkest secrets. Charlie learns about a number of scandals between the guests. One of the scandals revealed in the play is that members in town are part of the KKK.

Due to the KKK characters in the play, “The Foreigner,” has been a controversial choice for high schools around the country. When a high school in Minnesota produced the play last year, the production drew intense criticism from parents and the community.

After photos of the robed castmates appeared in a local paper in New Prague, Minnesota, the high school decided to cancel the production.

In Arizona, the play was a single production during an assembly. Parents appeared most bothered that the school provided them with no information about the contents of the play before the school presented “The Foreigner,” to students.

One parent told ABC15,

“At least inform the parents, give us the ability to make that decision,” the parent said. “The KKK walked into my kid’s school Friday and I didn’t get to stop it.”

The father also said,

“We can talk about racial prejudice, we can talk about the insensitivity, but to have our children put on the robes and assume the characters, it’s wrong…There is no justification for it.”

When ASU Preparatory Academy Phoenix heard about the controversy surrounding the play, the school issued a statement that said:

 “Last Friday, high school students in a drama class at ASU Preparatory Academy in downtown Phoenix staged a production of noted American playwright Larry Shue’s “The Foreigner.” The presentation of the play was done during the capstone period of the school day. Students in the class read several plays early in the fall and chose to perform ‘The Foreigner.’ The play portrays an image of members of Klansmen in a brief scene toward the end in which they are made fun of and driven away.

“We apologize if anyone was caught by surprise with the appearance of these characters. We are confident that a fair reading of the text of the play, and a fair interpretation of the intentions of students who performed it, reveals no endorsement of bigotry.”

Despite the appearance of the KKK characters in the play, the KKK members are antagonists in the production. In fact, the town rallies together to torch the KKK members at the end of act two.

Other parents didn’t seem as bothered by the production. One parent told the reporter that most of the children at the school are Hispanic.

Whether or not parents are outraged by the production, the negative reaction demonstrates the broader racial tensions the wider public is feeling in the United States. Hate crimes have risen dramatically over the past four years.

A study released this year by Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University at San Bernardino indicated that hate crimes increased by 12% last year in the 10 biggest cities in the United States.

With so much hate and violence on display in our news, media and daily lives, perhaps a play that contains members of the KKK isn’t the wisest choice for a high school.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Tawreos

    I think people are making a big stink about nothing here. If the KKK are the antagonists and are eventually made fun of an driven away then this would appear to be a proper use of the imagery of the KKK. We can’t get so caught up in what the group represents that we do not look at how it is used. I can understand that minorities would not like seeing the KKK, but there does need to be some context for their appearance to be a completely bad thing.

  • Knitting Cat Lady

    Oh for fuck’s sake!

    It’s a play! The KKK are the bad guys in it. If you have a problem with the concept of bad guys in fiction actually existing in real life, like the KKK, Nazis, etc. your sense of proportion is way out of whack.

    Honestly. Showing that people in the KKK (etc.) are just normal people and not some kind of inhuman ogres, and that decent people can actually put a stop to them if they want to is a message that is sorely needed these days.

    I’m German. I’m used to be Austrian. Students over here do actually dress up as Nazis in period pieces in school plays. Nobody gives a shit.

    I saw a Jewish girl play a Gestapo officer once…

  • Kevin K

    Sigh. People are idiots.

  • Jim Jones

    > … perhaps a play that contains members of the KKK isn’t the wisest choice for a high school.

    Or perhaps it is.

    BTW:

    The Portage to San Cristobal of A.H. is a 1981 literary and philosophical novella by George Steiner. The story is about Jewish Nazi hunters who find a fictional Adolf Hitler (A.H.) alive in the Amazon jungle thirty years after the end of World War II. The book was controversial, particularly among reviewers and Jewish scholars, because the author allows Hitler to defend himself when he is put on trial in the jungle by his captors. There Hitler maintains that Israel owes its existence to the Holocaust and that he is the “benefactor of the Jews”.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Portage_to_San_Cristobal_of_A.H.

  • Jim Jones

    Gentleman’s Agreement – Wikipedia

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gentleman%27s_Agreement

    Gentleman’s Agreement is a 1947 American drama film based on Laura Z. Hobson’s best-selling novel of the same name.

    Philip Green is a highly respected writer who is recruited by a national magazine to write a series of articles on anti-Semitism in America. He’s not too keen on the series, mostly because he’s not sure how to tackle the subject. Then it dawns on him: if he was to pretend to all and sundry that he was Jewish, he could then experience the degree of racism and prejudice that exists and write his story from that perspective. It takes little time for him to experience bigotry. His anger at the way he is treated also affects his relationship with Kathy Lacy, his publisher’s niece and the person who suggested the series in the first place.