What You Need to Know:

A photo depicting a mock lynching has sparked an investigation and outrage in southeast Kentucky.

A White student at Corbin High School was photographed while holding a noose around a Black student’s neck during a chemistry class. The students are members of Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC), and the Black student brought the rope. “…I don’t think he was intending for anybody to act like they were hanging him with it,” said Taytan McCauley, a student in the chemistry class who mentioned that other students began laughing at the incident. “Even if it was a joke, it wasn’t the right thing to do,” Corbin student Nathaniel Jackson said.

According to a statement by Superintendent David Cox said in a statement, “Corbin school administration is investigating the incident and in no way condones the content of the referenced photograph,” and appropriate action will be taken after the investigation is complete.

“Corbin has had a vast history of racism. I think it’s died over the years, but there’s still racism,” McCauley said.

Why You Need to Know:
According to a December 2021 survey of 10,725 Kentucky middle and high school students by their peers, 46% thought their schools should do more to confront racism and 39% reported having regular conversations with each other about race and ethnicity outside of the classroom.

Senate Bill 138 already limits how teachers educate their students about history, especially economic equality, gender, and race. House Bills 14 and 18, if passed, would impose further limits.

With these factors looming in the background of Kentucky school systems, it’s no wonder that a Black student thinks a noose around his neck is a funny joke amongst peers. No one taught him any different because they’re technically not allowed to. 

This is what America wants, to erase and reduce the cruel history that Black people have endured to the point where our own children think it’s funny to mock the horrific incidents that Black have survived or witnessed. Doing so would lessen the seriousness and consequences of racists acts, past or present, because…we’re all laughing! It’s JUST a joke! Lighten up!