South Forsyth High School students are smart, but a school prank that involved the “N-word” was plain dumb.
The graduating high school seniors pulled a “prank” that proclaimed in a large sign and wrote on school windows how much they enjoyed Drake’s music, particularly his take on Soulja Boy’s “We Made It.” The problem is the sign that read “N*** we made it” has a reality check. Nope, you haven’t made it.
In fact, what was supposed to be a celebration of a passage of growing up has put the high-achieving school (scored 91 on the state College and Career Readiness Performance index) in a negative national spotlight. In addition, it cast the couple of culprit students in an immature way that only reinforces negative stereotypes.
So, why not? This was a joke, after all, right? They didn’t destroy property.
But they did destroy the school’s reputation, and here’s the truth: the word is vulgar, dangerous, insensitive and simply put — wrong, even as a joke.
Song title or not, the students crossed the line and were rightfully punished for it.
Had they used common sense and left the n-bomb out, this would have never made the news, on the heels of Donald Sterling, the Clippers basketball team owner who went on a racist rant and was publically called out for it.
Forsyth County is a growing county with a checkered racial history. Maybe the pranksters didn’t get that civil rights lesson. Many people reading this were not even born, but just 27 years ago, in 1987, “The Oprah Show” turned the cameras on a then small community of Forsyth County, a place in which no black person had lived for 75 years.
The county had built a reputation as a racist enclave ever since whites drove out virtually all of the county’s 1,100 blacks in 1912.
Forsyth County is no longer that place that was broadcast on TV, where Ku Klux Klan protesters hurled rocks and beer bottles at civil rights marchers.
So with that said, let’s be clear that what these few students did does not represent our county.
It’s now a community that welcomes a growing diversity (4 percent black, 8 percent Asian and 10 percent Hispanic), has great schools and low taxes, and it’s a place that has grown and learned from its past. It is not a community that calls attention for the wrong reasons.
These kids are not a product of the Forsyth of ’87, but a product of a media and celebrity culture that allows hate words to be celebrated and monetized for shock and outrage.
So the lesson is clear: let’s stop celebrating the word’s use by anyone and everyone. If you haven’t picked up on this by the time you’re 18 and graduating high school, then you’ve certainly not made it.