Lifestyle & Belief

Minnesota school sued over "Wigger Day"

A former student has filed a federal class action lawsuit against a Minnesota high school over an event known as "Wigger Day," "Wednesday Wigger Day" and "Wigger Wednesday."

The plaintiff, Quera Pruitt, is African American, and the lawsuit claims that the events, held at Red Wing High School in 2008 and 2009, and possibly in previous years, caused her "severe and extreme emotional distress including depression, loss of sleep, stress, crying, humiliation, anxiety, and shame." As a result, she quit track, cheerleading and student council, and decided not to participate in the school's Martin Luther King, Jr. Day activities, "because she felt the celebration was a farce in light of the school district’s failure to prevent or adequately remediate the conduct that took place on Wigger Day."

According to the lawsuit, participants in "Wigger Day," which took place on the Wednesday of homecoming week, "wore clothes that, from their perspective, mimicked Black culture. These costumes included oversized sports jerseys, low-slung pants, baseball hats cocked to the side, and “’doo rags” on their heads. Some of the students displayed gang signs." 60 or 70 students participated in 2009, according to the complaint, which seeks $75,000 in damages and a declaration that "Wigger Day" is unlawful.

Pruitt's attorney, Joshua Williams, told The Huffington Post that the Pruitt family had hoped the school would do something about "Wigger Day," which was not officially sanctioned, after the 2008 event. After the event took place again in 2009, Pruitt's mother went in to complain.

"[Pruitt's] mom came up to the school, attempted to reach out to the school board, the superintendent, and the principal, but Red Wing's response was essentially to sweep this under the rug and act like it didn't happen," Williams said.

Minnesota City Pages reports that during the 2009 event, the school principal asked students to change out of their "wigger" clothes. In response, some students started a Facebook page titled "Wigger Wednesday," which apparently includes an offensive reference to Pruitt. After none of the students who participated were disciplined, Pruitt filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights. According to City Pages, that deal resulted in "an agreement with then-district superintendent Stan Slessor in September 2010. Slessor agreed to a number of remedies, including a meeting with all African-American students to discuss any incidents of harassment." But it did not officially do away with "Wigger Day," so Pruitt took further measures, and filed the lawsuit on Friday.

Pruitt graduated in 2010 and moved to Little Rock, Arkansas, according to City Pages.