Parents of a California middle school student are seeking justice after he was suspended and banned from athletic events for allegedly wearing blackface at a football game, per the Atlanta Black Star.
A photo taken last month at a football game between La Jolla High School and Morse High School in the San Diego area shows the student donning brown paint on his cheeks, temples, and chin.
Days after the game, the boy's principal at Muirlands Middle School, Jeff Luna, suspended him for two days, citing the occurrence as a "hate incident" on his suspension notice. The notice stated the boy “painted his face black at a football game” with the “intent to harm.”
Luna also banned the student from attending San Diego Unified School District sporting events for the remainder of the year.
The student's family argued that he went to the game outside of school hours and wore the paint for a TikTok video. They also claimed that a Black security guard encouraged the boy to put more paint on.
“He had a fun, great night without any trouble,” the student’s father said.
The student and his family hope to receive justice and are backed by the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression civil liberties group. The advocacy group argued that the boy was wearing paint in a manner traditional for football games.
“As the First Amendment protects J.A.’s non-disruptive expression of team spirit via a style commonly used by athletes and fans — notwithstanding your inaccurate description of it as ‘blackface’ — FIRE calls on the school to remove the infraction from J.A.’s disciplinary record and lift the ban on his attendance at future athletic events,” FIRE’s Director of Public Advocacy, Aaron Terr, wrote in a letter to Luna earlier this month.
The student's father attempted to appeal his suspension but was denied. He said his son has been wrongly accused of wearing blackface.
“I will absolutely clear his name," he said