UPDATE: On Friday, the day after this post was originally published, WPLG Local 10 News in Florida published an update on the situation. “Two South Florida high school students have been suspended after a distasteful sign they were holding in a prom proposal picture was placed on the Internet,” the story reads.
“The father of one of the students holding the sign says it was an unfortunate inside joke that was never meant to be seen on social media. Through their parents, all the girls have apologized.”
According to the Local 10 News report, the girls on the left and right in the photo were directing their promposal to the middle girl, who is the heir to her grandmother’s Alabama cotton farm, is homeschooled, and was not originally planning to attend the prom.
“They really want to apologize for their extremely poor choice of words in this situation,” said the father of another student. “They would like to take it back, they would like to find a different way to express this invitation to prom.”
Promposal season is in full swing, and while we all love seeing the extravagant, dramatic, adorable ways kids are asking each other to prom these days, some proposals are simply in poor taste.
Today’s questionable gesture comes courtesy of some students who allegedly attend Monarch High School in Coconut Creek, Fla., where a receptionist tells Yahoo Style that the principal is “aware of” the photo — made public through a tweet posted on Wednesday by Monarch High School alum Jon Aro, aka user @papichombo. It shows an Instagram screenshot (from a now-defunct account) of three teenage girls, one black and two white, holding up a cardboard sign reading, “You may be picking cotton, but we’re picking you to go to prom with us.”
“It is two thousand and f***ing seventeen,” Aro wrote captioning the image. And while it is unknown when the photo was taken and who the sign is addressing, people had unsurprisingly strong reactions, with the post being retweeted more than 8,000 times and “liked” more than 11,000, and earning a huge collection of angered comments.
— Nikki♡|RtPinnedPlz (@BowsNBeanies1) March 30, 2017
@papichombo I’ve had enough of all these racist promposals ????
— feelin a bit Breezy (@BreTownsend) March 30, 2017
— Powley MaAgbor (@PowleyMaAgbor) March 30, 2017
Some people were most disturbed that a black girl agreed to be in such a problematic photo.
@papichombo she prob feels like she has to laugh along with the racist jokes so they will like her…sad
— Mara O. (@Mara22Gem) March 30, 2017
@papichombo this is what happens when your African American and don’t understand this country history towards you
— King Friend Zone (@donaldofficiall) March 30, 2017
While some Twitter commenters named the sign holders, Yahoo Style was unable to confirm the girls’ identities.
Aro, 18, now a Palm Beach State College student, tells Yahoo Style via Instagram direct message that a friend of his posted the image on her private Instagram page. He called the joke “intolerable.”
“I decided to post it on Twitter because it is 2017 and stuff like this is completely revolting,” he explains. “I had thought we had been past the plight of racism. Apparently we hadn’t.” Aro says he has no regrets about his decision to share the photo publicly, adding, “Just as she decided to take a picture of it, let alone post it on social media, I decided to do the same.”
Whatever is exactly happening in the problematic photo, it’s far from the first time a racist promposal has reared its ugly head online. Last year, a picture of a white boy asking a black girl to prom went viral because the young man decided to use Kool-Aid, fried chicken, and watermelon (foods used to stereotype and mock black people) to woo his date. Another young white man asked a black girl to prom with a similar KFC-themed promposal.
While the kids may be smiling and laughing, the fact of the matter is this stuff simply isn’t funny. And it’s apparently not something that’s always outgrown in high school. From the racist Snapchat images that caused public outcry in 2016, to recent Fox News comments directed toward Rep. Maxine Waters, racist “jokes” are alive and well.
Yahoo Style will update this post with any additional details we hear.
Read more on Yahoo Style + Beauty:
- The New Way to Get a Prom Date: Point a Gun at Them
- Teenager’s ‘Cheesy’ Promposal Will Definitely Melt Your Heart
- Here’s How Teenagers Are Asking Each Other to Prom in 2016