“Promposals” written in ink on poster board are not uncommon this time of year, but one posted online recently took many in the community by surprise, with many characterizing it as racist.
Although promposals, or invitations to the prom, usually involve elaborate invitations featuring signs, flowers, balloons, songs or videos, last week a James A. Garfield High School senior, took the playful tradition in a racist direction. As her way of inviting another student to the prom, the student held up a poster with the phrase “Do you want to be like a n****r and hang at prom?” along with a drawing of a tree and a figure hanging from it. In a video of the promposal posted on Snapchat on April 24 and then shared widely, the student showed the poster to her prospective date and then to the camera as other students laughed.
The promposal was filmed in a meeting room at Garfield High School and posted by a student on Snapchat. Another student then recorded it and tweeted the video.
This tweet started to circulate on Twitter, and students from Garfield and nearby schools started sharing their grievances about the promposal.
After seeing the backlash, the student changed her Instagram username and apologized on Twitter.
Boyle Heights Beat has decided not to share the students name or the video.
The next day, all tweets and posts about this promposal seemed to have been deleted. Garfield High School staff sent a message to the senior class on Schoology, a social networking service used by the Los Angeles Unified School District, which said that anyone who was in possession of the video would face consequences, including not being able to participate in senior activities. “So, if you know of anyone that is tarnishing what we stand for at GHS by sharing this video, please ask them to take it down,” said the Schoology post.
Boyle Heights Beat reached out to the Garfield principal, Andres Favela, but was directed to the LAUSD media relations office. Garfield High School has yet to release a public statement to the community, but students at Garfield and elsewhere are sharing comments on social media about the poster and video. It is also being discussed by students and school leaders at other high schools in nearby neighborhoods, including Boyle Heights.
One social media post about the controversy featured a teenager with his arm around his girlfriend at the beach, head down, with a sad expression on her face. The post reads: “My girl goes to Garfield with people that say racial slurs every day. Y’all see it happening just now. I’ve been with her long enough to get how she feels about it yet too shy to do anything about it. So glad it’s a month left for school.”
Boyle Heights Beat also reached out to Los Angeles Unified School District Board President Moníca García about the situation.
“This is one of the reasons we work so hard to provide quality, supportive and transformation education in schools. It saddens me that this incident occurred & caused harm, & outrage in our school community.” García said in an email.