The two students in question, from Monarch High School in Coconut Creek, FL, asked a third student to prom via a social media post that reads as racist. It all started with an Instagram post from a now-defunct account showing three smiling teenage girls, two white and one black, holding up a cardboard sign reading, “You may be picking cotton, but we’re picking you to go to prom with us.” The caption read simply, "She said yes."
The promposal began as "just a joke," students from the school told CBS4. The girls, who reportedly play on a softball team together, meant the poster as an inside joke for the girl in the center, who attends homeschool and whose family owns a cotton farm. The controversial image became public fodder last week when Monarch High School alum Jon Aro shared a screenshot of it on Twitter alongside the caption, “it is two thousand and fucking seventeen."
Aro's tweet has since been liked more than 11,000 times, retweeted more than 8,000 times, and sparked a plethora of angry internet commentary, including a strongly worded Instagram rebuttal from Grey's Anatomy actor and activist Jesse Williams. "Trash and tragedy the likes of this requires a great many failures, lies and omissions, working in concert, publicly and privately, to achieve this level of destructive dumbfuckery," he captioned the image.
Ashley Graham shared a screenshot of Williams' post on her Instagram this morning, with his words outlined for emphasis. She was not alone. Many have taken to Twitter to share their shock and anger - including some Monarch High School classmates.
Many were most disturbed that the black girl who received the problematic prom proposal not only said yes but also apparently happily agreed to having her picture taken with the sign.
The students have since been suspended, pending further investigation of the incident, and have issued statements of apology through their parents.
“The father of one of the students holding the sign says it was an unfortunate inside joke that was never meant to be seen on social media," reports ABC Local 10 News. "Through their parents, all the girls have apologized.”
"They really want to apologize for their extremely poor choice of words in this situation," added the father of another student. "They would like to take it back. They would like to find a different way to express this invitation to prom."
A different way, indeed.