Unfortunately, racism is very much alive in the United States. Just when you think that humanity may be on a path of progress, jerks like the father of a Lake Village, Arkansas student remind us that we have not made as much progress as we thought. What adds insult to injury is that this occurred in Arkansas, where there is already a perception that everyone is about a hundred years behind the rest of the country. We certainly all know that everyone in Arkansas does not prescribe to this level of ignorance and hatred, but this one guy is hanging on to it like grim death!
Poor Anna Hayes is a student at Lakeside High School in Lake Village, Arkansas. On a night that was supposed to be an opportunity to get dressed up and look her best, take photos and get treated like a princess, she had to suffer a rant from her father that resulted in him disowning her. Her crime? Taking her friend and classmate Phillip Freeman, an African American student to prom as her date. Hayes is Caucasian and is actually in a long term relationship with a different young man. She went with Freeman as a friend only, but even this was just too much for her father to handle. As part of this sad and shocking story, here are 15 things you need to know about this pathetic rant.
15. Her Father Said She’s Dead to Him
Anna Hayes wanted to make her prom the great experience that every high school student wants. Prom is a rite of passage for most high school students and for that reason, it is important to get everything right. Most parents understand and appreciate this concept, but for Anna’s dad, he must not have gotten the memo. When she posted photos of her looking beautiful with a handsome young man standing next to her, instead of beaming with pride (or even saying nothing at all), he sent her a horrible rant of texts calling her horrible and disgusting names and going so far as to say that she is dead to him! Having your father say you are dead to him is the worst thing a parent can say to their child and she deserves so much better.
14. Members of Her Family Received Threats
Anna got on social media and made a statement about her feelings on the whole issue that quickly blew up all over the internet! Among other things, she asked very sincerely that no one make threats of harassing statements to her family. Anna even specified that she didn’t want people to harass her father, his ex-wife or current wife. That is an amazing and selfless act in and of itself. After being treated like garbage after what is supposed to be one of the best nights of her life, she still asks that people not make threatening statements claiming that there are better ways to make a statement. Anna is going places in her life and she is an example of how young people should act and view the world.
13. Hayes Has Very Little To Do With Her Father
It kind of seems at first like Anna Hayes lives with her father, but this is not the case. In fact, she apparently does not have a particularly close relationship with him. Her mother and father are divorced and while she allegedly lived with him for a brief period of time when she was younger, she has lived with her mother since she was in her early teens. She said that she was aware that he had racist feelings, but had no idea that he could or would take it to this level. Anna’s mother was embarrassed and felt terrible for her daughter after the rant, but like a graceful young woman, Anna recognized publicly that there is nothing she can do about her father’s feelings and actions. What a smart and well adjusted young woman.
12. Dad Lives Far Away
According to information on social media, Anna’s father is Matt Hayes, who doesn’t even live nearby. He lives nearly three hours from Anna’s home, making the idea that the two have some type of close relationship even less likely. Her father, who is apparently trying to win some type of Lifetime Achievement Award with the KKK, lives in a different state from his daughter. Not only does he live in a different state physically, he also is in a different state mentally. Having racist thoughts and tendencies is horrible all by itself, but when you go off and disown your daughter, call her a wh*re and say a variety of other damaging and hateful things, your mental state is definitely in question. As they say down South…”bless his heart.”
11. She’s In a Four Year Relationship
One would assume that with her father throwing such a huge fit, Anna must be in a relationship with this African American gentleman. Generally, it is a disagreement with interracial relationships that have sparked racist parental anger. In this case though, Anna is not even dating Phillip Freeman (although it wouldn’t matter a bit if they were). Anna has been in a four year relationship with a young man (who happens to be Caucasian). Her school has rules on age limitations for prom dates and this rule prevented Anna from taking her boyfriend. But she wanted to have a great time and decided to take her friend Phillip, as her date. The two simply went as friends, but just the mere idea of the two pictured together was enough to send her father into orbit.
10. Lake Village is Near the Louisiana Border
Lake Village, Arkansas is in the Southeast corner of the state very near to the Louisiana border. Louisiana is just about 30 minutes from Lake Village. The community is very small with only about 2,500 residents, of whom 56 percent are African American. In communities like this, racial divides are unfortunately very common and small town gossip (famous in every state) can run rampant. Lake Village has experienced a sharp population decline since the 2000 census and the area is primarily known for its agricultural resources. It is not easy trying to apply modern and current world views in communities like this, but Anna and Phillip are determined to show the world that such hatred cannot be swept under the carpet and kept silent. Fortunately, there has been more support for them than opposition.
9. Even Hayes’ Grandmother Supported Her
In reviewing some comments on social media, Anna’s grandmother posted a positive message in response to Phillip and Anna’s prom picture. This was apparently her paternal grandmother, because right afterward, Anna’s dad made a comment chastising his mother for showing positive support for Anna and her date. This seems a little backward from what one would expect, as it is usually the older generation that has the more racist thoughts and feelings. In this case, the apple fell very far from the tree and Mr. Hayes seems to be all by himself on the issue, at least as far as family is concerned. Some other hate filled people chimed in to support his views of how wrong the whole thing was, but by and large, he was shouting all alone. Both
8. Hayes and Mitchell are Seniors
Both Phillip Mitchell and Anna Hayes are high school Seniors, graduating from Lakeside High School in Lake Village, Arkansas. It is a typical small school where everyone pretty much knows everyone else. The fact that they are graduating this year makes the whole situation even more sad, as no one deserves to have this special time of their life overshadowed by the rantings of a racist father that has little to do with his daughter. At this point, Mr. Hayes has claimed that he will not pay for her college. Even if he showed a change of heart, I am not sure that his financial assistance would be welcome by Anna or her other family members. With all the unrest that came from this rant, he may not be welcome at graduation even if he had a change of heart.
7. Her Dad Cut Off Her Phone and Car Insurance
A child should know that they are loved by their parent unconditionally. Plenty of parents disagree with the actions of their children, but they still love them. Not only did dad scream obscene and hateful things at his daughter through text message and inform her that she was dead to him. He also said that he was going to cut her off from any type of financial assistance. Claiming that he is going to shut her phone off and cancel her car insurance, Mr. Hayes went all in on his rant. After all of that, all Anna could manage to say in response to her bigoted father was “I didn’t do anything wrong.” No Anna, you did not do anything wrong and you have nothing for which you should be sorry. There has been a Go Fund Me page setup for Anna Hayes’ college tuition that I’m sure will have lots of sympathetic contributors!
6. Hayes Has a Bi-Racial Sibling
According to Anna, she has a half sister on her mother’s side of the family that is bi-racial. This is obviously information that Anna’s father would have. A reasonable and responsible parent would be sensitive to this fact and understand that his daughter may (and likely does) have different views on race relations than that of his own. A reasonable and responsible parent would have asked questions about the boy in the picture to find out more information, rather than simply going off on a tirade. Unfortunately, Anna’s father is neither reasonable nor responsible. According to Anna, her mother was so embarrassed by her dad’s behavior, but surely Anna’s half sister also had some strong feelings. But Anna’s dad chose to send first and ask questions later. Now he is getting more negative attention than he anticipated.
5. Refusing to Go To Her Graduation
This guy has called Anna everything he can think of, and made just about every threat imaginable. You can’t just take back something like this and say you are sorry afterward. Mr. Hayes even came out and said he would not come to her high school graduation! No parent wants to miss a huge and important milestone like high school graduation, but apparently Anna getting her picture made with an African American (he had other choice words to use to describe him) was so horrible that his conscience could not allow him to attend. It is a sick and twisted world, but unfortunately there are people that feel this way and are willing to sell out their family for superficial and antiquated ideas. Somehow I don’t think Anna will be too sad to see him absent.
4. Other Racists Have Commented on Her Photos
One of the worst problems with social media is that it can really bring out the worst in some people. The racist and hateful sentiments of her father are bad enough, but others came out of the woodwork and made similar horrific comments on many of Anna’s pictures and other status updates. Posts that had nothing to do with prom or this situation at all wound up getting ugly and hate filled comments promoting racist ideals, essentially trolling her account! While most people have been supportive and loving, there are several bad apples that have become a very loud minority. It is a lousy time of year for a high school Senior to have to endure such hardships. It is a prime example of cyber bullying and how harmful it can be and the damage it can cause.
3. Mitchell Shared the Pictures on Social Media
Attention to this issue came about because Phillip Mitchell, Anna’s prom date saw a severe injustice in those text messages. It was not Anna that published the screenshots of the messages between Anna and her father. Phillip published them and brought the extreme hatred and abuse of her father to light. Many may assume this to be an invasion of Anna’s privacy, but Anna quickly made the statement that she was glad Phillip posted them. She said that she believed that it was important for people to see and understand that there are still those in the world that think like this and have extreme racism and hatred. She has also called for an end to racism across the world. Lofty goals, but very worth the effort and the fight.
2. Her Dad Used The Term “Subhumans”
As part of his ranting, Mr. Hayes went further than nearly anyone else would have a few different times. While it is certainly true that anyone can think what they want and believe what they want, that does not make it correct or factual. Mr. Hayes went completely off the deep end in his texts by referring to African Americans as “subhumans,” which is about as insulting as you can possibly get. It is unknown if Mr. Hayes was drunk, high or just out of his mind when he said all of this, but it is absolutely clear that statements like this show nothing but ignorance. Truthfully, it is people like Mr. Hayes that give humanity a bad name. They make all the noise but say nothing of any value or substance.
1. Hayes Said Almost Nothing Back to Her Father’s Rant
In perhaps the classiest display of restraint and tolerance, Anna Hayes showed her father in the best way that she is the better person. It takes at least two people to argue, and rather than going back and forth for a long period of time, Anna said very little back in reply to her father. What she did say was more impacting than most would be in the same situation. She did not use the same foul language her father used. She did not go on and on in detail, she only said a few brief remarks. She said “I went to prom with a black guy, so that’s a problem…racist much?” Then she replied, “I didn’t do anything wrong.” Anna has a bright and shining future ahead of her and she needs to know that the world is not full of people that think as her father does.