Ashton Brooks, a black student athlete who made history by becoming the first girl to join Midland, Michigan’s Dow High School varsity football team, has one of the classiest responses to a racist Instagram post comparing her to a gorilla.
Brooks is the top football kicker in her conference, and the first ever female varsity player in Midland. Despite her accomplishments, a former student of rival team Midland High School posted a photo of herself on October 22 posing with a person in a gorilla costume.
Her caption: “Got a pic with dows kicker ;).”
Brooks saw the photo and initially shared it with her Twitter followers, writing:
The disrespectful photo, which has since been taken down, went viral when New York Daily News writer Shaun King tweeted a screenshot of it, and a series of thoughts: “When a young Black girl is the #1 football kicker in her conference, here’s what happens = White girls pose w/ gorillas & call them her.”
In a classy Facebook post published on Tuesday and screen captured by the Atlanta Black Star, Brooks addressed the photo, stating: “I think the post was just a representation of ignorance from one individual who was trying to bring me down, but that will not stop me from performing my best in the sport I’ve grown to love.”
She also wrote quite a few responses on Twitter, including:
The racist implications of comparing a young black woman to a gorilla have also been addressed by Midland Public Schools Superintendent Michael E. Sharrow, who released a statement to USA TODAY Sports saying that the school district is “sickened by the social media post and feel awful for Ashton and her family.”
“The Board, Superintendent and High School Administrators have thoroughly investigated this incident. The girl who posted the photo and caption is a former MPS student. She last attended MPS in the 2014-15 school year and now college age. We are equally offended and upset that our Schools and Community have been connected to her comments in this matter. The comments made do not reflect the beliefs of our District or Schools in any way...Midland Public Schools will continue to track this information. We will condemn this type of racism and misuse of social media within our Schools, District and Community.”
It’s unfortunate that Brooks has had to contend with this kind of racism at such a young age, but she’s still winning in spite of it. The teen has received an outpouring of love and support on social media from friends, family, and strangers alike. And according to the Midland Daily News, she has received both academic and athletic scholarships to attend Northwood University next year.