School Redneck Day: Why Are Civil Rights Leaders Angry Over Arizona High School’s School Spirit Spoof?

By Philip Ross on May 2, 2013 3:49 PM EDT

redneck day
A&E’s reality show “Duck Dynasty” centers on a Southern family who got rich from their duck hunting business. Some of the family members are self-professed rednecks; the show inspired an Arizona high school to host “Redneck Day.” (Photo: Creative Commons/A&E Promo)

Students at Queen Creek High School in Queen Creek, Ariz., took part in "Redneck Day," an event meant to get students excited for prom (although how exactly dressing like a redneck would engender school spirit has not been determined).

According to USA Today, school officials said "Redneck Day" was meant to be a spoof of the A&E series "Duck Dynasty," which follows a family of duck hunters in West Monroe, La. The show highlights what some consider "redneck" traditions i.e. growing beards and shooting at things.

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One student decided to wear a Confederate flag, which is a symbol, for some, of hillbilly life in the Southern U.S. But for others, it's a vestige of America's history of slavery and segregation.

Some African-American students and local civil rights leaders took offense at the student wearing a Confederate flag. The Daily Caller reports that 11th grader Marcus Still, whose grandfather is vice president of a local National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, or NAACP, chapter, was among the students who were insulted by "Redneck Day."

"This thing really got to Marcus," Ozetta Kirby, Still's grandfather, told the Arizona Republic. "When you're in 11th grade, that can break you down and make you feel at the bottom rung of the whole society ... No kid should have to go through that."

He added: "We all know the connotation of 'redneck.'"

The term redneck is slang for poor, uneducated white farmers, predominantly from the southern U.S. It's synonymous with the terms "hillbilly" and "white trash," and is usually used in a derogatory way to refer to a white person who has a very provincial, conservative and even bigoted worldview.

It first showed up in our vernacular sometime in the late-19th century when it was used to describe white farmers who got sunburnt while working in the fields.

The student at Queen Creek High School who wore the Confederate flag was later asked to change his outfit. USA Today reports that the student, who is from the South but had moved to Arizona, did not associate any negative connotation with the flag.

"It was explained to him that in Arizona, we look at it differently," Tom Lindsey, the school district's superintendent, told USA Today.

Lindsey also apologized to people who were offended by the student's attire, saying there was no "ill intent."

In Kent, Wash., a similar event called "White Trash Wednesday" was scheduled to be held at Sunnycrest Elementary School. The event, during which students would be eating barbecued food off of trash-can lids, has been canceled due to parents' protests.

Read more from iScience Times:

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