Leanna E., a Black cheerleader for the Indianapolis Colts, met with a white teenager who called her the N-word on social media after appearing in a photo with her. Leanna met with the high school student, who apologized for his actions and says he was just trying to be funny.
On Wednesday (Dec. 21), Leanna posted a photo of she and the 17-year-old boy via her Twitter account with the following caption: “A week ago I was the victim of a racial slur that was shared around the world. Today, I chose forgiveness & feel stronger because of it.”
The incident Leanna is speaking of took place the week prior when the boy posed for a photo op with she and another person. The boy posted via his Snapchat account: “Of course Mason put me next to the n**ger.” The photo, since deleted went viral and the boy eventually posted an apology via Instagram but that too was removed.
The IndyStar reported in greater detail of the meeting between the pair:
The student and his mother met Leanna and her coach in a conference room in the complex on the northwest side, and though Leanna extended a hand to shake, the teen greeted her with a hug and flowers.
“I extended my hand to shake, and he was like, ‘Come on, bring it in, bring it in.’ It was a good ice breaker,” she said. “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.”
His mother was extremely gracious, too, Leanna said.
Leanna suggested that the teen’s comfort with the racist slur was born of the rise of Donald Trump, which has emboldened that type of behavior online and abroad. She added that the Colts organization will be creating a program about racial sensitivity and that she’ll be involved.