Just days after she was called the n-word on social media by an Indiana high schooler, an NFL cheerleader has publicly forgiven the teenager, and is using the experience to denounce the rising tide of racism that’s accompanied President-elect Donald Trump.
Leanna E—a three year veteran of the Indianapolis Colts cheerleading squad—had met with the unnamed 17-year-old last week, as part of an event celebrating his school’s involvement in a local blood donation program, the Indianapolis Star reported. There, a photograph of the two standing next to one another was posted to Snapchat, with a caption reading “Of course [other student’s name] put me next to the nigger.” The student pictured is white, while Leanne E. is black.
After a screenshot of the snap was shared on Facebook, the student’s picture was immediately condemned by school officials who called it “a very racist post,” as well as the Colts organization, who wrote they were “appalled and saddened that one of our cheerleaders was subjected to a racial slur.”
This week, Leanna E—whose day job sees her working as an outpatient case manager in the behavioral and mental health field—shared a new, decidedly more optimistic, picture of her and the teen to her over four thousand Twitter followers.
In an interview with the Star, she described meeting the teen, telling the paper:
He was pretty uncomfortable, which is understandable, but he got right to his apology. He said that he was a kid who made a mistake. He actually referred to himself as a dumb kid that messed up, and he said he was trying to be funny and wasn’t and that he made a mistake and he was sorry, very sorry for hurting me and others.
Later, calling her experience part of the “Trump Effect,” Leanna E. placed part of the blame for her racist name-calling at the feet of politicians who use equally offensive language.
“It has become acceptable, for some reason, to be racist or make racist comments, and I don’t really know why that is,” she explained told the Star. “The leaders of the nation are making these mistakes, and it’s seeming OK. It’s not that surprising that these kids would make the same mistakes.”