Black History dress-up letter suggesting animal print ‘poorly worded,' district says


WAXHAW, N.C. - A letter sent home with a group of elementary school students in Union County last month surfaced on the Internet this week.

The letter, bringing attention to Western Union Elementary School’s Black History Month celebration, asked parents to help their students participate in Black History Day by dressing “in African-American attire.”

The letter went on to suggest students wear animal print clothing “or shirts with animals native to Africa,” and cited zebras, lions, giraffes and elephants.

The letter was sent out ahead of the school's Feb. 28 Black History Day celebration.

Popular LGBT rights blog posted a picture of the letter Tuesday. Before the site used the photo, it had been posted to a popular image sharing site, imgur, and shared on the content-sharing website, reddit. According to the author of the reddit post, the picture came from a friend who is from a nearby town.

According to Union County Public Schools’ Chief Communications Officer Luan Ingram, the letter has been sent out to parents for several years without complaint. She said they did not hear any complaints from the school community this year, either.

“While it was well-intended, it was poorly worded,” Ingram said. “We are reminding all of our principals to be very sensitive in word choices when communicating with parents concerning different ethnic groups and cultures that make up our world.”

Another blogger picked up the story and found the school’s phone number as well as the principal’s email address as part of a call to action to contact the school and complain.