High school students in Oregon allegedly bake blackface cake in culinary class

PORTLAND, OR (KATU/CNN) - Students at an Oregon high school will receive lessons on racism and the history of blackface after some students allegedly baked a cake depicting blackface in culinary class.

Jesse Hodgson, a student at Cleveland High School in Portland, OR, says the news about the cake, which shows a classic representation of blackface, spread quickly on social media.

“As soon as I saw it, I was like, ‘That looks like blackface,’” he said. “People were sharing on their Snapchat stories that they saw this, and they were saying, ‘This looks like Jim Crow. This looks racist.’"

Several white students in a culinary class at the high school reportedly baked the cake, which shows a classic representation of blackface. (Source: Twitter/KATU/CNN)
Several white students in a culinary class at the high school reportedly baked the cake, which shows a classic representation of blackface. (Source: Twitter/KATU/CNN) (Source: Twitter/KATU/CNN)

Several white students in a culinary class reportedly baked the cake Thursday. The same day, the school’s principal, Ayesha Freeman, sent a letter to parents.

“We are working together towards a restorative process to heal our community from the hurt and harm that has been caused by a series of incidents this year,” Freeman wrote. “There is no place for hate speech, bias or discrimination at Cleveland.”

Parents say the incident is disturbing.

"I can’t help but wonder what we do now, that in 30 years from now, we’re going to look back and say, ‘My God, what were we thinking?’” parent Ron Billings said.

Students say a noose was found hanging in the school the same week the cake was allegedly baked, and swastikas were painted on posters earlier this year.

"There are really terrible issues that go on in the school, and it doesn’t get dealt with in a serious matter,” student Saphron Bilings-McBee said.

Hodgson says the school needs to do a better job of educating their students.

"They just think it’s not something that happens at our school, but it does happen and people need to be educated about that,” he said.

The school sent another letter home Monday, outlining what they’re doing to address the issue and move forward. Social studies teachers will give lessons on racism and the history of blackface, and the school will hold both a panel discussion with students of color and an anti-hate assembly.

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