Teen faces backlash after asking date to dance with racist 'picking cotton' sign

A Washington teen who held up a racist sign asking her date to a school dance reportedly said on Instagram, “I have no excuse for what was said, and I take full responsibility.” (Photo: Getty Images)
A Washington teen who held up a racist sign asking her date to a school dance reportedly said on Instagram, “I have no excuse for what was said, and I take full responsibility.” (Photo: Getty Images)

A high schooler is “so genuinely mortified and sorry” after facing backlash for the way she asked her date to a school dance – with a poster that read “If I was black, I’d be picking cotton. But instead, I pick you.”

The 17-year-old Seattle, Wash., student, whom Yahoo Lifestyle will not name because neither she nor her father could not be reached for comment, asked her date Ian to Issaquah High School‘s “Tolo” dance on Saturday (for which girls asked boys to attend) with the letterboard. A photo of the couple holding the poster made it to Snapchat, and ultimately school officials.

The student has a private Instagram account, but according to Seattle news station KIRO 7, she wrote an apology on the platform Monday.

“I want you to know that I am genuinely sorry for the hurt feelings, chaos and rage that my tolo poster caused. Unfortunately, the wrong image of myself was portrayed through the words written on the poster. Those who know my true heart know that I am not racist, and that evil way of thinking is something that makes me sick. I have no excuse for what was said, and I take full responsibility. I’m sorry to those who were affected. I feel so genuinely mortified and sorry about the situation that I am physically ill over it.

“Racism is not something to be made light of and I understand that by making that poster it made me out to look like a racist person,” wrote the student. “Racism is not what lies within my true heart. The sign was not okay and I’m sorry. It was wrong, it was hurtful, and it reflected me and who I am in a completely distorted way. I have a kind, loving, genuine soul, and I love all humans as humans. It was not my intention to upset anyone by what I wrote and if I could go back and change my actions, I would. It was a mistake that wasn’t thought through.

“I have no excuse, I’m only 17, and that’s not who I am,” she said. “From the bottom of my heart, that was not me, that is not how I was raised or what my family believes in, and I understand the severity of what was written. I am sorry. I meant nothing by it. It was just some stupid poster we found on Pinterest, but it wasn’t ok for me to copy, and it wasn’t funny, and I understand. I’m sorry.”

Yahoo Lifestyle could not reach the girl’s date for comment.

L. Michelle, Issaquah School District‘s director of communications, told Yahoo Lifestyle, “It’s disheartening but we have to face this. We have made progress on equality but there’s obviously more to be done.” Michelle says students are organizing a rally against the students’ behavior, and the school will investigate before disciplining in accordance with the district handbook.

On Monday, Doug Baldwin, Jr., a wide receiver for the Seattle Seahawks football team tweeted, “I am saddened that this idea was thought of and executed without intervention. Racism is not just taught, it is encouraged through its tolerance. Let’s take this as a reminder not only to be more empathetic but to hold each other more accountable.”

Superintendent Ron Thiele wrote on the Issaquah website, “We are deeply troubled, discouraged and, quite frankly, appalled by the racially insensitive social media post involving Issaquah High School students. The words and actions of the students involved are not consistent with our beliefs and values as a District and we are truly saddened by the negative impact this has had on our entire community, particularly our students of color…”

On Monday, principal Andrea McCormick shared on the school website, “Issaquah High School does not condone acts of racism or hate in any form. We are deeply saddened and discouraged by the photo that is circulating social media of an Issaquah High School student asking another student to TOLO with a racist poster. We strive to create a community that is inclusive, warm and accepting for students of all kinds and backgrounds and to see students make choices like this is truly disheartening. We do not accept racist behavior in any form as it is entirely inconsistent with our school’s and community’s values and we will take the appropriate steps to respond to this situation.”

McCormick said the school will continue hosting diversity clubs, designing Black Lives Matter T-shirts for staff to wear and hiring mentors for students of color.

Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle:

Follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for nonstop inspiration delivered fresh to your feed, every day.