A California high school teacher wore blackface on Halloween while imitating rapper Common during a class, the NY Post reports.
The white unidentified Milpitas Unified School District staff member swayed as he rapped to his students over a beat while wearing a black jacket and white shirt in front of a class. The teacher’s performance took place at Milpitas High School.
“Opportunities limitless, possibilities senseless, what will you do?” the teacher rapped, imitating Common’s commercials for Microsoft. “Millions of people, not enough to eat, what will we do? With A.I. Microsoft technology, the future – it‘s up to you. You can do it. With A.I., the future will blow your mind.”
The high school teacher crudely highlighted Common’s social activism as well as his role as Microsoft’s spokesperson for its advertising campaign for the technology company’s artificial intelligence technology. The teacher was placed on administrative leave.
“The action(s) were inappropriate, unprofessional and insensitive,” school board president Chris Norwood said in a statement. “As an African American man, the history of Blackface reminds me of the cruelty, hatred and fear my parents and people of African Ancestry have dealt with in the past and still experience today around the world.”
A 16-year-old student shared footage of the teacher’s performance on Twitter late Friday (Nov. 1), stating that the teacher previously taught history at Milpitas High School, but now teaches a different subject. The female student later identified the educator as “Mr. Carter.” However, district officials haven’t released his name, citing that the issue is a confidential personnel matter.
“In this community, we honestly don’t have room for people, especially people who want to dress up in blackface, to come in here and still try to educate people on topics like this,” the student and vice president of the school’s Black Student Union, Karrington Kenny, told The Mercury News. “That doesn’t make sense that he gets to stay, and continue working there when he thought this type of behavior was appropriate.”
Kenny also said that the teacher “should have known better,” adding that the footage was the “talk of the town.” The San Jose chapter of the NAACP received a total of 15 calls and emails from irate caretakers, parents, and students regarding the incident, as KNTV reported.
“It’s harmful, it’s hurtful,” Rev. Jethroe Moore II told the news channel. “It’s not the right environment for a student of color to see their teacher perform like that.”
A parent of a student at the high school said that she didn’t understand what the educator was attempting to accomplish.
“When they look at that blackface, what message is he trying to send the students?” Francine Pham told KNTV. “That is totally wrong.”