The Glenn Hills High School 2010 yearbook this year had a "crime theme," in which seniors were depicted as criminals and their photos as police mug shots, along with listings of fake "charges." One entry talked about a student being most likely to become a porn star.
With so many young black males imprisoned in this country, and with their image too often associated with antisocial behavior -- and with "gangsta" culture sadly celebrated in young African-American circles -- the Glenn Hills yearbook episode isn't just outrageous, it's damaging and hurtful and counterproductive.
The exact opposite of what a good educational experience should be.
In other hands, such a product would be deemed undiluted racism.
Now, we were young once, and we know that kids can have some pretty off-the-wall, even horrendous ideas. So we don't blame the students for this debacle.
It should have been stopped in its tracks by loving, attentive, knowing adults.
As we grow and mature, most of us have a kind of chip implanted in our brain that says, "No, that's a bad idea. Don't do it." Somehow, a committee of teachers and parents at Glenn Hills that oversaw this abomination never had that chip implanted.
What on God's green Earth were they thinking?
District Superintendent Dr. Dana Bedden said the incident "created discomfort and disappointment" for Glenn Hills parents. In truth, it has to disappoint anyone, anywhere, who is concerned about the image and self-perception of young blacks in this country. Millions have been working against this sort of stereotyping for decades.
"We will continue to work to find out at what level the lack of supervision occurred," Bedden said in a written statement. "The administration will address any personnel deficiencies with the appropriate action and take the necessary steps to clearly articulate the school system's expectations."
District officials say they'll reassess student publication policies, as well they should.
They owe it to all those who have devoted much of their lives to fighting prejudice. They owe it to parents and taxpayers.
But they owe it, most of all, to the kids -- who, whether they realize it or not, are in desperate need of adult guidance.