Milpitas teacher who wore blackface in class and imitated TV ad is placed on leave
A Milpitas teacher who put on blackface on Halloween and imitated the rapper Common for a class lesson has been placed on administrative leave, the Milpitas Unified School District announced.
The teacher was recorded on video by a student while performing a rap song referencing Microsoft artificial intelligence. Common is well-known as the pitchman for Microsoft's AI campaign on TV.
The student said the teacher, whose name was not released by the district, was white.
School board President Chris Norwood on Sunday gave the following statement:
"A culturally sensitive matter has been brought to my attention by an upset and disappointed group of District leaders, teachers, students and parents. An MUSD staff member on Halloween chose to wear black face paint and satirically imitate a TV commercial and well known national social activity of the African American community. The action(s) were inappropriate, unprofessional and insensitive."
Norwood called for an investigation into the incident.
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 use of blackface has been widely condemned as a racist and offensive portrayal of people of color, especially African Americans.
"I’m kind of disappointed that in 2019 that this isn’t common knowledge," school board Trustee Michael Tsai told KRON. "I’m a person of color myself and I’m really committed to building a safe, inclusive and welcoming environment in Milpitas for people from all backgrounds. At best, this displays an ignorance about the context of blackface, the historical connotations, and how offensive and hurtful it could be."
Pastor Jethroe Moore with the NAACP told NBC Bay Area he's received 15 calls and emails from upset students and parents.
Mike Moffitt is an SFGATE Digital Reporter. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @Mike_at_SFGate