Westowne Elementary School Cancels School Play

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Westowne Elementary School Cancels School Play

Photographer: Anna Fulford

Photographer: Anna Fulford

Photographer: Anna Fulford

Zayd Zaghari, Staff

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Westowne Elementary School has replaced its latest play production after receiving complaints about negative stereotypes of Arab culture.  

The drama club at Westowne Elementary School intended to perform a live production of the popular 1992 film “Aladdin.”  

The school shared their rationale for the cancellation at an October 22nd meeting. The decision was not without controversy.  

One of the parents discussing their concern with the school play is Danette Mask, an attorney for CAIR. Her son came home confused and humiliated to hear that Arabs were being described as barbaric people.  

“My child is an Arab-American. He came home and asked why his people were being described this way and the look on his face said it all.” Danette stated. Later her son asked to be removed from the play.  

After Danette Mask brought her concerns to the attention of the school, the school’s principal, J. Palmer Walker, decided to replace the production with another program: “Westowne Fables.”  

He released the following letter to the Westowne community shortly after: 

“Recently, it has been brought to our attention that Disney’s Aladdin Jr. has historically been criticized for its inaccurate, negative stereotyping of Arabic culture. Here at Westowne, we want to cultivate students who have a strong self-image, appreciation, and respect for other cultures. It is important that we make choices that resist negative stereotypes, promote understanding, and celebrate all people. After careful consideration and with input from the perspectives of many stakeholders — teachers, parents, and community members — we decided that this production of Aladdin Jr. is not the best fit for our Westowne community. Instead, the drama club will be producing an alternative theatrical production with a focus on fables to showcase the talents of our amazing students.” 

One parent, Jessi Eberle, expressed her discontent with the school’s decision.  

“They’re saying we’re a community, but they didn’t even ask anyone. They just made this decision by themselves and it’s kind of disappointing,” she remarked.  

Some students at Catonsville High school feel a similar way such as Adam Carrol who thinks removing the play was unnecessary.  

“It’s all about political correctness gone amok.” Said Adam 

“I think it should’ve been removed so that other kids don’t feel unwanted or left out.” Stated Zion Stanely, a fellow student as CHS. 

Disney confirmed that they are indeed working on expunging racism from their original “Aladdin” in preparation for the upcoming live animation. The producer of the play, MTI, has reimbursed Baltimore County Public School for the money it spent to purchase the rights to the play. It has not been changes, if any, MTI will make as a result of the concerns expressed.