HOUSTON – A picture taken at a weekend off-campus party is causing controversy at Lamar High School.
"I thought it was blackface and I was immediately offended," said senior student Ogechi Anene.
The screenshot of a Snapchat video recorded Saturday shows what appears to be a white teenage girl with black paint on her face and wearing a T-shirt featuring the face of the late rapper Tupac.
Students who sent the picture to Channel 2 say the party was organized by a secret social club called Wichaka.
Students told Channel 2 the girl in the picture is a Lamar sophomore who was told by upperclassmen to wear a certain costume for an initiation ceremony.
"She was supposed to be Tupac. If you were to impersonate a black person even as a costume I don't think it's appropriate to wear black paint on your skin," Anene said.
But other students say the photo is being misinterpreted.
"It's not anything with blackface, we didn't even know what blackface was," said senior student Reagan Shadwick.
Shadwick was not at the party but is friends with the organizers.
She says the student in the picture was not told to wear blackface or dress as Tupac.
"It was supposed to be a shadow they asked her to bring a black shirt and that happened to be the shirt she was wearing," Shadwick said.
In a statement to Channel 2 News and HISD spokesperson wrote:
"Lamar High School Principal Dr. James McSwain addressed the entire student body on Wednesday to reaffirm the school’s commitment to maintaining an educational environment that is inclusive and free of racial harassment. Students were reminded that participation in non-sanctioned organizations on campus is prohibited and that students who do so may be subject to disciplinary action. Campus administrators are currently investigating to identify any non-sanctioned student organizations that may be operating on campus, and will take appropriate disciplinary action if necessary. In addition, the Lamar staff will continue meeting with groups of students to discuss the school’s commitment to providing a school where all students feel welcome and safe."