People have accused Covington Catholic students of wearing blackface at a 2012 basketball game, but alumni say it was an innocent 'blackout' cheer theme

  • An old YouTube video resurfaced on social media over the weekend and sparked accusations of racism against Covington Catholic High School students, who are at the center of a controversy over a confrontation the group had with a Native American activist and a group of Black Hebrew Israelites.
  • A video of the school’s student section, the “Colonel Crazies,” shows several students with their faces, chests, and arms covered in black paint.
  • While the same video compilation shows students covered in other paint colours for other themes, the black paint resembles the racist blackface historically worn in productions mocking black people.

An old YouTube video that shows Covington Catholic High School students wearing black paint at a basketball game resurfaced over the weekend and sparked controversy among social-media users condemning the paint as blackface.

The “Colonel Crazies Compilation Video” depicts students in the crowd at basketball games with their faces, chests, and arms fully covered in black paint following along with school chants and motions.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KSiE1H4JKQE?start=6

The video, which was reportedly uploaded by the school in 2012 before being removed sometime over the weekend, also shows students covered in other paint colours, including blue and white, at events listed as “Braveheart March” and “White Out.”

One Twitter user posted a link to the compilation video alongside a picture from a game where all students in frame are dressed in black and four are covered in black paint, which the user called “blackface.”

The front few rows of students pictured are gathered around a player from the opposing team who appears to be black and who the tweet says was among those “verbally abused.”

The video calls to mind student sections that cheer along collegiate basketball teams, including Duke University’s “Cameron Crazies,” Texas A&M’s “12th Man,” and two Florida State University student fans who won attention in 2014 for covering themselves in head-to-toe glitter paint in the team’s colours.

However, the images of “Colonel Crazies” students in black paint resemble racist characterizations of black people in blackface productions historically put on by white people.

Twitter users who said they’re Covington Catholic alumni denied the accusations of racism and said the paint was common at games and followed a colour theme.

Another purported alumnus said the Covington Catholic cheering section displayed the same behaviour and dress depicted in the videos and pictures shared on social media against all teams, “no matter the race or ethnicity.”

The school came into the spotlight after a video went viral showing a group of its students in a confrontation with a Native American activist in Washington, DC, on Friday.

Many condemned the students’ behaviour in the video as racist, though extended footage released Sunday and a statement from the student at the center of the confrontation, Nick Sandmann, have added context to the incident.

Sandmann said that he and the other Covington Catholic students, who were in DC for the annual anti-abortion rally March for Life, were first targeted by a group of Black Hebrew Israelites, who launched insults and slurs at the students.

The Native American activist, Nathan Phillips, said in a later interview that he inserted himself in “a dangerous situation” in an attempt to diffuse tensions among the groups. Students quickly gathered around him and sang in a manner many on social media cast as mocking upon the video’s original circulation.

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