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California High School Teacher Placed On Leave After Wearing Blackface In Classroom For Halloween


When it comes to blackface, will White teachers ever learn that it is absolutely unacceptable?

A year has passed since Megan Luloff, a White elementary school teacher from Iowa, was castigated for donning blackface for Halloween. She went as LaFawnduh from Napoleon Dynamite.

This Halloween, a White male teacher from Milpitas, California, dressed as rapper Common in front of his students. His ensemble included a black jacket, white turtleneck and wearing blackface.

A student filmed his deplorable performance mimicking the rapper Common’s Microsoft artificial intelligence commercial and posted it on Twitter.

“Sooooooooo… one of our WHITE teachers at mhs yesterday decided to paint his face so look like common the rapper yesterday.”

This is the commercial the Milpitas High School teacher tried to imitate and never should have.

Scott Forstner, the communications specialist of Milpitas Unified School District located in Santa Clara County, told Buzzfeed News that the teacher who wore blackface in the classroom was placed on leave.

“The employee has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation.”

The school kept the suspected teacher’s identity private as it was still “a confidential personnel matter.”

But the person who posted the video identified him on Twitter as “Mr. Carter.”

@karrington_kk, who shared the 23-second video, confirmed with Buzzfeed he was not a student of the suspended teacher but obtained the footage from a friend whose mother is also a teacher for the Milpitas Unified School District.

The user posted the video to make an important point.

“We decided to post this to bring this to the eye of the public. He genuinely thought it was okay to come to school like this.”

People were rightfully appalled by his costume choice.

Superintendent Cheryl Jordan and the principal, Francis Rojas, apprised parents and faculty of the incident and explained the history of the racist practice and the origin of blackface in a memo.

“Blackface paint has a historical and present-day connotation of racism that demeans those of African ancestry.”

“The act was disparaging to our students, parents, colleagues and the Milpitas community we serve.”

Milpitas Unified School District Board President Chris Norwood, who is Black, asked for an investigation of the teacher and called his act:

“inappropriate, unprofessional and insensitive.”

Norwood told USA Today:

“Milpitas Unified School District is home to (over 10,000) students of diverse cultural, language and socioeconomic backgrounds. We are surprised, disappointed with the action that has occurred.”

The school’s memo said that “appropriate action will be taken pending further investigation.”

Superintendent Jordan and Principal Rojas added:

“It hurts to know that this type of cultural insensitivity and lack of cultural awareness still hovers in the background.”

“We are committed to strengthening our school environment through culturally relevant and respectful education designed to address prejudice and racism so that we can prevent bullying and harassment.”

The book Burnt Cork: Traditions and Legacies of Blackface Minstrelsy is available here.

“Beginning in the 1830s and continuing for more than a century, blackface minstrelsy―stage performances that claimed to represent the culture of black Americans―remained arguably the most popular entertainment in North America.”

Koh Mochizuki

Written by Koh Mochizuki

Koh Mochizuki is a New York-based actor and writer. Originally hailing from Los Angeles, he received his B.A. in English literature and is fluent in Japanese. Disney parks are his passion, and endless cups of coffee are a necessity. Instagram: kohster Twitter: @kohster1