Update (May 15, 2019) : Days after several high school students in Houston were chastised for rocking cornrows and statement jewelry in honor of their school’s “Jersey/Thug Day,” community members are speaking up with conflicting opinions about the backlash surrounding the scholar’s decision. Students from Memorial High School also sounded off about the attention they’ve received since the images went viral.

“They need to do more than make a statement,” said James Douglas, president of Houston’s NAACP chapter to The Houston Chronicle. "They need to have some training programs for these students to make them understand what it is like to live in a racial society. And why what they did was harmful to other people.”

On the contrary, another Black resident wasn’t personally insulted with the action.

“I would be more offended by the school allowing something like that to go on,” Gullatte said. “The reality of it is, you know where these images are coming from. They’re not coming from the perception of white thugs.”

Memorial High junior Laura Field told HuffPost students have cleverly disguised this particular day for a while, adding that “Thug Day” was around when her older sister was a student four years earlier. Fields hopes administrators will put an end to this spirit day once and for all.

“As a Black student I am already not represented well at my school,” she said. “To see these events happen on Tuesday deeply offended and saddened me. I couldn’t grasp how the staff could let this happen again after years of the same thing.”

In fact, Thug Day barely scratches the surface at Memorial. A 2016 graduate revealed that in 2015, another Spirit Week day included “Senioritas Day.” According to Monica Day, on Senioritas Day scholars would don sombreros and mustaches, and one female student even came to school with a Border Patrol outfit on.

Gabby Hamlin, the Memorial student who exposed the offenders, said she has been the subject of death threats since news broke.

“These last few days, I’ve been full of necessary rage against people who invalidate people like me,” Hamlin said. “Playing with a defined stereotype that hurts Black, and other minority communities isn’t appropriate for a high school spirit day.”

Original:  Memorial High School in Hedwig Village, Texas has been forced to release a statement in response to widespread backlash over photos that leaked online of a school event called "Thug Day."

Photos from the event show white seniors at the school dressing up as what they believed are "thugs" In several pictures, students can be seen wearing basketball jerseys, fake grills, durags and cornrows.

The photos spread quickly online, with some students defending it by saying it was part of the Class of 2020's rising senior week. 

Steve Brunsman, with the Spring Branch ISD Communications Office, told Blavity that the school has "a longstanding tradition for its rising juniors to have special dress days during the week before finals to celebrate the fact that this student class will soon be seniors."

"MHS junior class officers worked together with students and administrators to create approved Monday-Friday dress-up themes: Hippie, Jersey, 2000s, USA/America, Hawaiian," he added.

"On Tuesday, some rising juniors wore inappropriate dress and body/hair decorations as part of an alternative, unapproved response to the theme day. As a shared expectation about the theme was clearly violated, MHS has cancelled all remaining dress theme days for the remainder of this week. While the majority of rising juniors followed the approved dress theme on Tuesday, any instance of an inappropriate or offensive dress violation will not be tolerated."

He also said that the students who violated the school's student code of conduct and dress code "will be given a consequence."

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Yet the statement does not explain a flier found online explicitly referring to the day as "Jersey/Thug" day.

One teacher, Dr. Gregory Bowhuis, sent a letter out to the entire junior class saying he was "disappointed that the theme for today was not followed after we approved what was shown to us last week."

"Today's theme was to be Jersey day, meaning an athletic jersey was to be allowed. This does not mean that students should be wearing anything besides that including: chains, hats, other head gear, fake tattoos, etc.," he wrote.

"If we cannot follow the approved themes then we will not allow theme day at all. This week we still have 2000's, USA, and Hawaiian. These should be done modestly and appropriately. Students found not following these will be given a consequence."

The Twitter user who sent out the photos said "Thug" day has been going on at the school since 2015. She also added that she's received threats from students and friends of those involved. One Twitter user allegedly threatened the whistle blower by calling her "r*t*r*e*" and threatening to sue her for posting the photos on Twitter.

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