"If I was black, I’d be picking cotton, but I’m white, so I’m picking u 4 prom," reads 18-year-old Noah Crowley’s sign, as reported by the Sarasota Herald-Tribune on Monday.
A screenshot of Crowley with the sign, reportedly from his girlfriend's Snapchat account and in which she included the double heart-eyed emojis, has since gone viral.
18 year-old Noah Crowley asked his girlfriend to the prom holding a sign saying, “If I was black, I’d be picking cotton, but I’m white, so I’m picking U 4 prom.” His equally clueless girlfriend shared the post and captioned it with heart eyed emojis pic.twitter.com/pMrR0EuxU2— Shai (@shaig) April 24, 2018
Parents of students at the high school received an automated call from school officials Monday morning as a result.
“[The post] was racial in nature and administration became aware of it last night,” Riverview High School’s acting principal Kathy Wilks said to parents in the early morning call. “Many who saw the post are understandably upset with its content as well as the subsequent commentary to the post. Riverview High School absolutely does not condone or support the message conveyed in this post.”
She added in the call: “We are focused on ensuring that Riverview High School provides a safe and secure environment for all of our students and that all students feel welcome and understand the value that they all bring to our school community. Our guidance counselors and administrators are available for any student who wish to speak to someone regarding the issue. Riverview High School has a wonderful student population and we know our school will use this incident as an opportunity to have productive conversations about respect for one another.”
On Monday morning, following the blowback across the digital ecosphere as well as from school officials, Crowley reportedly apologized, insisting that it wasn't his intention to offend anyone.
"Anyone who knows me ... knows that that's not how we truly feel," Crowley said on social media, according to local station WTSP. "It was completely [sic] joke and it went too far. After reading the texts and Snapchats, I truly see how I have offended people and I'm sorry."
School officials at Riverview High School told ABC Action News they are now working with local and national civic leaders, such as the NAACP, to host a forum to discuss the issue of race and society.
The Sarasota chapter of the NAACP recommended to the district that Crowley not be allowed to return to any school within Sarasota.
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