Thursday, June 14, 2007

Riverdale School Accused of Racism

RIVERDALE - Accusations of racism have permeated Riverdale, after photos from a Riverdale Christian Academy graduation party surfaced on the Internet.

The June 1 celebration took place after the private Christian school graduated seven seniors. It was themed "Southern plantations during the Civil War."

Several pictures portraying school staff members as slaves were posted on an online photo album by members of the congregation.

The staff appeared to be wearing brown makeup on their faces, arms and legs to imitate the full appearance of an African American slave.

The pictures caught the attention of local news agencies, and Tate Hill, a local blog writer who was offended by the skits.

On his blog, Urban Knowledge, Hill says, "This is not merely a theatrical production emulating fictional characters, but a purposeful demonstration of disregard for the seriousness of the black American slave experience. It trivializes slavery, it celebrates the ungodly and unfounded Biblical justification of this era and further characterizes rural and small town America as unwelcoming to people of color."

Photographs on the Internet pictured staff members dressed as slaves, selling lemonade and working with gardening tools. One photo showed a runaway slave being brought back to the party.

Riverdale Christian Academy Principal and Pastor Doug Spencer said that it was not the intention of the school to offend anyone.

"We did not intend to offend anyone," he said. "If it was anything offensive, we apologize."

The school is associated with Riverdale Assembly of God, which is an active church in the community, including organizing town clean-up days and hosting the Living Nativity every Christmas.

(June 13, 2007)

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