This Teen's Dad Told Her She Was Dead To Him For Going To Prom With A Black Friend
"If you have a family member or anyone that 'disowns' you because of who you love or associate with then forget them, people will support you through this." Warning: graphic language
Anna Hayes is a high school senior from a small town in southern Arkansas called Lake Village. She told BuzzFeed News that racism is a big issue in her community.
Unfortunately, Anna said that bigotry extends to her own family. Her father has been openly racist as long as she can remember "for unknown reasons," she said.
Anna lived with her father for some time when she was younger after her parents divorced, but moved back in with her mother when she was a young teenager.
Since then, she and her father have not had much of a relationship, she said.
"He had always been openly racist around me when I was growing up in his household, but it never really occurred to me what it exactly meant to be racist," she said. "When you're a child you look at the world completely different."
She added that her father's views are especially hurtful because her half sister on her mom's side is biracial, so the issue is personal for them.
"He has told me that if I ever dated a black guy that I will and would be dead to him," she said. "I stood my ground for what I believe in. He has called me several horrible things before."
Last week was Anna's prom, and she asked her friend Phillip Freeman to be her date.
"He is just a close friend and he's super cute so I asked him to go to prom with me," Anna said of Phillip. "He is a great guy, he's really funny."
After the dance, both Anna and Phillip shared photos of their night on Facebook. Afterward, Anna said she got the below messages from her father.
Anna said that she hadn't told her father about her prom because "he isn't really a part of anything that I do."
When she got the messages, she said she felt "incredibly sad" and said she didn't see this coming, despite her dad's past comments.
"This just hurt more because I cannot believe how anyone can hate someone they don't even know because of their skin color," she said.
She added that her mother was shocked as well.
"My mother was horrified and felt terrible but there isn't anything she can do," she said.
BuzzFeed News has reached out to Anna's father for comment.
Anna sent the messages to Phillip, who told BuzzFeed News that as he read them, he got "more and more angry." He shared them on his Facebook page, and the photos soon went viral on multiple social media accounts.
A ton of people online were horrified by what Anna and Phillip had gone through.
One person who is also from Arkansas wrote they were sadly "not surprised" by Anna's dad's comments.
Though some people said the language he used was unbelievable. "I have legitimately never heard someone, outside of a documentary, refer to a different race as subhuman. #heartbroken," said one.
"People are absolutely ignorant. There's no need for so much hate," one person wrote.
"Not sure what's worse, the racism or treating your child like that," said another.
Anna said all the attention has been "stressful and a bit unbelievable at times."
She said the hard part has been some people assume she is racist too.
Anna said she hopes her story sends a message that "we need to fight for what is right."
"Racism against all races needs to end. We can be the change, and if you have a family member or anyone that 'disowns' you because of who you love or associate with then forget them, people will support you through this," she said. "I know they supported me for sure."