Two Vernon pastors and their friends sit, watch and listen to a video they find unsettling. The Snapchat video emailed to KFDX and Texoma’s FOX allegedly shows a Vernon High School student, in costume and blackface, portraying television personality Steve Harvey.
The video was purportedly recorded during a party, off campus, involving Northside volleyball players. For legal reasons, KFDX and Texoma’s FOX will not be showing the video on air.
But Willie King of Full Gospel Fellowship Church in Vernon did watch the video and said though the student may have done it in fun, there’s no excuse for it to happen.
“It’s not funny to poke fun at any race of people for any reason ever,” King said.
King’s church is located on the recently renamed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street: an attempt by community leaders to preserve Dr. King’s legacy as well as develop closer ties among citizens.
“We have a long way to go. It says we’ve made some strides toward creating some diversity and creating the change we’re striving toward; but we have a long way to go,” King pointed out.
Vernon resident Penny Baker realizes dressing in blackface is an insult to black people’ but what she doesn’t know is the reason behind what happened.
“I’m not sure whether she thought that was how to do that, to do Family Feud, or if she just didn’t give any thought to it,” Baker said.
However, not everyone we showed the video to finds it offensive.
“Most of my friends are white. So, there’s no problem with me,” Marshall White said.
When asked if white people can dress up as Steve Harvey, White said, “If they want to try to, they can. Everybody’s got the freedom to do what they want to. I don’t see nothing wrong with it.”
But Pastor King believes the blame shouldn’t just fall all on the student.
“They were children. They were young. We all make mistakes as young people. We’ve all done things we’re not proud of; but again, that’s learned behavior,” King said. Behavior King and others hope won’t happen again.
Both Northside and Vernon ISD superintendents say this is under investigation and confirm this was not a school sponsored party. We have their full statements below.
“Thank you for bringing this to our attention. The District has already begun to review this matter very carefully and will take appropriate action. However, the District cannot comment on matters that might impact students’ rights to confidentiality. Therefore, an on-camera interview would not be appropriate at this time.” —Jeff Byrd, Vernon ISD Superintendent
“We appreciate you making us aware of the incident. Upon investigation we have learned that recently members of the Northside volleyball team attended a dinner at the home of one of the members. The meal was not school sponsored and there were no coaches or school officials present. The function was adult and parent supervised. Various games were played that were intended to be fun, and to promote team unity. NISD takes very seriously the conduct of its students, teams and those that are affiliated with them. We strongly regret any hurt that might have resulted from an evening that was meant for the good. We will continue to monitor and deal appropriately with the situation.” —Mark Haught, Northside ISD Superintendent