Home School News ‘Blackface’ Incident at Vets Middle School Prompts Controversy, Plans for Training

‘Blackface’ Incident at Vets Middle School Prompts Controversy, Plans for Training

A photo of a student, with identifying features pixelated out, wearing what was considered by some to be a racially offensive costume. (Submitted Photo)
A photo of a student, with identifying features pixelated out, wearing what was considered by some to be a racially offensive costume. (Submitted Photo)

A number of Brick Township parents voiced concerns to school officials and over social media this week after a middle school student was allowed to wear what some felt was “blackface” as part of a costume during a school event.

The incident occurred at Veterans Memorial Middle School, where students were allowed to dress up to represent various figures during a school celebration. One student, who was purportedly portraying a Brazilian soccer player, appeared in a photograph with black makeup across his face that looked similar to the racially-offensive “blackface” makeup that was, in past times, used to lampoon African-Americans.

Interim Superintendent Thomas Gialanella said the student, whose name was not released and whose photograph Shorebeat pixelated with this story, did not intend to be offensive. Apparently, he said, the student applied to black makeup in a similar way that professional athletes darken the skin under their eyes, and other students smeared more on his face. Photographs circulated online, however, spurring numerous calls from parents asking why staff members did not recognize the sensitivity of the issue and order the makeup removed.


“It says something about our understanding of the issue if an adult can see something like that and not have a concern,” said Gialanella, who added staff members will be trained in future professional development presentations to better handle scenarios that include racial overtones. “It really is a serious breach that we need to address.”

“We’re not trying to hide it or sweep it under the rug,” Gialanella said of the controversy, explaining that students would also be learning more about actions that could offend others or be considered biased.

“I don’t think the student really had any understanding of what was happening, but that is a problem in and of itself,” Gialanella said.

  • Late Night Comedian

    What do J W and Frank Rizzo have to say about this?

    • J W

      I’ll give the kid the benefit of the doubt. He might have been going for a mustache and beard. We can’t even see the paint.

      That being said, we are not a joke to be humiliated.

      • Jerry Toboggan

        Yes you are a joke. Trying to be a human!

      • Late Night Comedian

        Thats what I thought . It almost looks like a full beard and mustache.
        Give the little kid a break.

      • 205167117

        If that’s what a beard and mustache loom like then I’ve been shaving wrong for a long time lol. I wonder why my facial hair doesn’t wrap around my cheeks and eyes and meet on my forehead?

        Honestly I have more issue with the cover story than the action itself. I can understand the kids didn’t know any better and just made a mistake but the school covering it with that dumb excuse is a bit insulting to anyone that does understand the gravity of what black face is even if they meant no harm.

        Own it, address it and move forward.

  • Chief Wahoo

    Go Neymar !!!!!

  • Jim Thornley

    really????whats the big deal…..america is turning into a bunch of cry babies

    • Late Night Comedian


  • Helen C

    Kids today have no clue about the old “blackface sketches” . Its so sad that the kids today cant even be kids because someone has to take offense to every little thing, my kids were like I guess he was rolling in the mud, nothing shocking. Stop overthinking people. SMH

    • 205167117

      It’s nice that they still have their innocence but assuming all the kids in the school view it as yours do is a bit ignorant.

      At the very least it was a poor decision on the part of all involved and the excuse comes off to me as a lie. Rolling around in mud does not create a perfect face shape lol

    • 205167117

      Basically what your saying is if you don’t know about how something was racist then you shouldn’t be responsible.

      Would it be okay at a talent competition at the school for any kid to get in front of the MIC and start dropping the N word?

      But what if they didn’t know the definition of the word?

      Stop under thinking it and prepare your kids for a world that’s a bit more diversified than Ocean County.

      • Helen C

        you have no clue – we were born & raised in Elizabeth – my kids have friends of many races & no it’s not right to get up in front of a Mic & say that but neither is criticizing a child over & over again for something they said they didn’t know was wrong , explain it wasn’t right discipline if need be & move on there’s no need for the media to keep making it more than what it was or people that have nothing better to do than make it more dramatic than it was meant to be .

      • 205167117

        You must not be reading my posts. I’m basically agreeing with you. My issue is with the excuse by the adults and the lack of supervision by the teachers who must have know how this COULD be taken by even the adults who work at the school who know exactly what the meaning of black face was once upon a time.

        Don’t argue just to argue, have a point and try to understand some other people choose to educate their children a bit more about this bad things in this world. Letting them grow up thinking everything is peaches and cream is certainly your choice but the moment your choice affects others is the moment you have a problem and unfortunately ignorance of an issue even if it be for educational purposes usually ends in a problem.

        Good luck with the see no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil approach. I truly do wish it was that easy.

  • Chief Wahoo

    Hilarious. No not the black face. But Daniel Nee. The guy posts a picture and story about a kid in black face wearing a Brazil jersey and @ Chief Wahoo posts Go Neymar !!!
    And Nee deletes that comment. Are you kidding. This guy who calls himself a libertarian, doesn’t know the first thing about freedom of speech, It’s a joke. Or maybe he is just doesn’t like Chief Wahoo and is anti-Native Americans. Yeah 2 can play that game …..So who is more offensive (although both are protected by the 1A) the guy who posts a black face picture or a guy who says go Neymar????

  • Northside Mom

    This is so ridiculous. I’m an adult and don’t even know what Blackface is. Give me a break. It’s a kid being a kid. Why aren’t they allowed to be kids anymore. Absolutely ridiculous

    • Helen C

      i totally agree & people complaining here shouldn’t be hiding behind a # – if your gonna say something & start a discussion / problem at least be forth right and put your name out there otherwise we’re addressing # 1234567899

      • 205167117

        Your name is 6 letters, mine is 9 numbers. Neither are connected to any social media and you could just as easily be a male in with no children.

        Concern yourself with the content, not how to track me down.

      • Helen C

        i’m not a stalker -if i have something to say i’m gonna say it & not hide . I have no need to track you , just like to know whom i’m talking to.

      • 205167117

        You shouldn’t care who you’re talking to if you truly believe what you’re saying.

        I’m not fan of social media and prefer my privacy but please feel free to come to the next school board meeting and I’ll be sure to introduce myself.

  • 205167117

    I challenge anyone to find a picture of a Brazilian soccer player wearing eye black. Better yet find a picture of a black athlete wearing eye black. The point is if you’re black you don’t need to wear it. Neymar doesn’t wear eye black and if the story is true then the moment they smudged it perfect in the shape of a face then the definition of what it is changed.

    That’s no accident and if you believe it is then you’re overlooking the initial action. Nice try by the school to avoid the issue but frankly I’d hold whatever teachers that saw this and did nothing as the responsible parties.

    • Helen C

      here’s 2 : https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c312a0b5b402d87cd7a2d35ff69112a7637363b62886abb263520af2b524713e.jpg

      & Deangelo Hall , handsome young football player is another 1 im sure the’re more

      • 205167117

        Guess you couldn’t find a soccer player and by the way those aren’t eye black on Hall. Those are stripes that get applied that have adhesive on them. Not positive but I believe they do a bit more than the eye black.

        If you’re a fan of soccer then the suggestion of a Brazilian wearing eye black is kind of funny and hitting me with an example of a backup RB in the NFL is kind of grasping at straws.

        Once again the excuse was weak and not well thought out. Also I spoke with my friend’s kid yesterday who goes to school there. From her perspective she knew exactly how insulting it is to do that and she said the majority of the school was aware of the actual meaning.

        There’s a fine line between innocence and ignorance.

      • Helen C

        i didn’t search for a soccer player i searched for athletes wearing black under their eyes – i don’t watch sports barely watch tv don’t want the negativity in my house just like here it’s sad – i’m raising my 4 children without it . I let them be kids and they get along with everyone. We were at a Bbq with many other families from this school & only 1 family there knew about this and the rest werre surprised -and everyone there who has kids we knew i asked did you know , or hear they had no clue or what it even meant i didn’t explain not my job to that’s up to their parents how they want them to interpret & explain &
        yes some of them were black & spanish so different views on this . Hopefully people can just learn to let go & live in peace which we already do & spread more Peace not negativity & Love instead of hatred . Moving forward now .

      • 205167117

        All that proves is you were at a party where the parents are uninformed.

        As someone who just admittedly does not watch sports you should have a bit more of an open mind when the topic is something your uninformed on.

        Just because people are unaware doesn’t make it okay.

        Your logic is scary.

      • Helen C

        Maybe more people should be uniformed in situations like this then we’d have less drama in the world. My logic is stop looking for a problem when you weren’t there or even know the kids – they seem nice and not looking for trouble just being a kid . Thank God they weren’t doing drigs or worse nowadays if this is what people have to target for news it’s scary targeting a child !

      • 205167117

        That’s the issue here is you’re defending the kid but there’s nothing to defend. Find one place here where I said to punish the kid.

        I’m saying writing it off like it wasn’t what it was is insulting to everyone’s intelligence because the eye black argument doesn’t make sense.

        If you choose not to prepare your kids for what’s to come in this world then it’s your choice. I agree with you not feeding them TV and sports but that’s not going to keep them from being around other people in this world that either don’t look, sound, think or act like they do.

        It’s about a level of understanding and not hurting others with your words or actions.

        You seem to be okay with hurting or insulting a few in order to maintain some level of innocent ignorance.

      • 205167117

        Once again let me point out I do not feel like the kid should be punished or even brought to the attention of this site.

        The attention was brought when the principal allowed a silly excuse to be made and I feel the teachers that watched this go on are the ones that are at fault.

        There’s nothing wrong with making a mistake. There is something wrong with lying about it afterwards.

        I agree the kid should not have been targeted here but I do feel the adults involved handled it incorrectly from the beginning to the end.