“Racism is a taught behavior.”
BY Zayda Rivera, BET
Two high school students in Wyoming have been disciplined after dressing in outfits resembling the Ku Klux Klan during the school’s spirit week.
The young men walked into Riverton High School with smiles on their faces as one waved an American flag.
Dressed in white robes, one of the boys had a pointed hood on and wore a cross around his neck, the Washington Post reports.
“I was surprised to see something this blatant,” Micah Lott, 26, a member of the Northern Arapaho Tribe and a Native American rights activist, told The Washington Post.
Riverton, Wyoming is a small town surrounded by the Wind River Indian Reservation, the Washington Post reports.
“Racism is a taught behavior,” Lott told the Washington Post. “We have to acknowledge what we’re teaching our children and how it’s continuing this cycle in our country.”
On Facebook, Lott wasn’t so surprised and in fact, commented on how “the klan is alive and well in Riverton.”
The two students, who have not been named, were disciplined, the school said on Facebook, the Washington Post reports.
“We are aware of the photo circulating social media. We do not condone or support the student’s actions,” the school wrote on FB. “We have taken disciplinary measures and have handled it. One student’s decision does not represent our school or district. We are an inclusive school that is proud of our diverse population and celebrate that fact regularly.”
Wyoming’s state superintendent, Jillian Balow, tweeted, “I am saddened and disappointed by the actions of the two students involved in the incident. This hurts our community, state, and nation.”
Balow continued, adding more information about the incident, “The facts indicate that they deliberately and intentionally entered the school in attire known to be associated with the Ku Klux Klan. Hateful speech, attire, or behavior is unequivocally unacceptable.
“…School personnel took swift action to remove the students, investigate the incident, and commence with disciplinary action,” Balow wrote.
Lott, who went to Riverton for school as a child, said this behavior is nothing new, the Washington Post reports.
“We were always told to ‘go back to the res,’” he told the Washington Post. “But then you grow up and realize, ‘What does that really mean?’ Because we’re on the reservation, we’re surrounded by it.”
Terry Snyder, the superintendent of Fremont County School District No. 25, which represents Riverton, told CNN, “They did not have an understanding of the impact that would create, but they do now.”
Lott told the Washington Post, “People are just barely having these conversations right now. The wound is still very fresh. We’re definitely moving slower here than in other parts of the country. We need to talk so we can understand each other better, and see that as indigenous people, we’re humans too.”
This article originally appeared on BET.