A California high school teacher has been suspended after student-shot video showed him dressed as the rapper Common, complete with blackface.
In a statement obtained by The Washington Post, Milpitas High School and district officials confirmed that the teacher, an e-tech instructor who previously taught history at a middle school, wore blackface as part of a Halloween costume.
Sooooooooo… one of our WHITE teachers at mhs yesterday decided to paint his face so look like common the rapper yesterday. pic.twitter.com/1WudSddCLZ
— karrington (@karrington_kk) November 1, 2019
The instructor is on leave pending the results of an investigation, according to a letter addressed to parents and community members.
“The actions of a staff member on Halloween adversely affected this expectation because of the choice to wear blackface paint. Blackface paint has a historical and present-day connotation of racism that demeans those of African ancestry,” the letter reads.
“The act was disparaging to our students, parents, colleagues and the Milpitas community we serve,” it continued. “Our Human Relations team has placed the employee on leave and appropriate action will be taken pending further investigation.”
Karrington Kenney, vice president of the school’s Black Student Union, told local Fox affiliate KTVU that she recorded the video, and added that the instructor’s actions were hurtful to the school’s small African American population, which she said numbered about 80 students in a school of 3,300.
“He is a white male so he came to school with his face painted and he tried to act as if he was the rapper,” Kenney told KTVU. “I go to a very diverse school and to see that he really thought it was okay, it was a joke, it really hurts especially being one of the handful of black people that go to the school.”