LOS GATOS, Calif. (Azenith Smith/KTVU) - A high school senior who wore blackface makeup as part of a prom invite is speaking out and defending his actions. It's one of two controversial racist prom invitations that Los Gatos High School officials are investigating.
The senior, who is part Middle Eastern and part white, said he intended the May invite to the prom to be fun and different and by no means-racist. He's apologizing to those he offended.
Here at Los Gatos High School, the excitement of graduation is overshadowed by controversy over two prom invites viewed as racist. Danika Lyle is with the high school newspaper El Gato, which first exposed them.
"It's honestly hard for me to understand what prompted these," said Lyle.
Last month, a junior asked a girl to prom using a poster that said "do you wanna be like a n--- and hang at prom?" On it is a drawing of what appears to be a lynching.
Then there was another incident involving a senior who wore blackface as part of his prom invite. The 18-year-old behind it asked we not share his identity.
"I didn't mean to do it in a racist way," said the student. "I still don't think it's racist because at no point did I mock anyone."
He asked his friend using a dark-skinned bitmoji. It's a customized avatar he created online. His date was unsure if it was a real invitation so he copied the bitmoji asking in person wearing blackface makeup. He said he had no bad intentions.
"People are offended by the stupidest things these days," said student. "At one point do we say enough is enough and let the offended run the world."
"I think they are both offensive regardless of intent," said Lyle. "I just think the amount of outrage of the community now is evidence of that," said Lyle.
Lyle, who is half black, is not surprised by the incidents, saying it's a predominantly white high school with many students lacking exposure to different perspectives and cultures. Isaki Wada-Law, who is also half black, agrees.
"There has been racism at the school but never to that extent," said Wada-Law. "Overall I was shocked by it."
Attempts to reach the school were unsuccessful on a holiday. The school did issue a statement to the El Gato paper that said, "No communication about any school event should denigrate another person or group for any reason. We are aware of two prom asks this spring that have been of racist nature and want this choice never to recur."
The school is now looking at offering cultural sensitivity programs next school year. As for disciplinary action, the 18 year old who wore blackface make-up said he was required to attend a 45-minute counseling session at the school.