Six students at Desert Vista High School in Ahwatukee — a suburb of Phoenix, Arizona — took a picture proudly wearing shirts spelling out a racial slur that swept through social media this Friday.
The students can be seen here wearing shirts that, when standing side by side, spells the N word.
The students wore these shirts on the day of the senior class’s annual yearbook picture. Students are “allowed to wear pre-approved shirts with lettering or messages.” Their shirts were supposedly part of a larger message that reads “BEST * YOU’VE * EVER * SEEN * CLASS * OF *2016”.
No faculty member saw the offensive configuration of the lettered shirts until the picture surfaced online. A school spokeswoman told 12 News the photo was “unacceptable and does not represent the student body or the district.”
The school’s Black Student Union defiantly responded by tweeting a picture with a group of white and black students smiling together under the banner #thunderstrong. They also echoed the district’s sentiment that the six girls who wore the shirts spelling the racial slur do not reflect the Desert Vista High School student body.
The incident that occurred today at Desert Vista High School does not reflect the beliefs of the student body! pic.twitter.com/WkOQpkqtaN
— DV BSU (@dvhs_bsu) January 22, 2016
When the Tempe Union High School District was made aware of the picture, representatives said they were “aware and outraged” and that they took “swift disciplinary action.” While they declined to publicly reveal the nature of the punishment, students of the school were found on Twitter bemoaning that the culprits only received a five day suspension.
Many students reflected that they had received a five day punishment for infractions as minor as tardiness.
This is yet another PR nightmare for Arizona, which is infamous for its cruel immigration policies and racial tensions between minorities and its large population of far-right white instigators. It remains to be seen if the district will punish these students in accordance to the severity of their crime or if this will be yet another story of Arizona treating inequality with kid gloves.