California coaches, teacher suspended for donning blackface at costume party

By REUTERS
November 2, 2013 05:08
1 minute read.

 
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Two California high school football coaches and a teacher were suspended this week for wearing Halloween costumes that featured blackface, prompting criticism from parents and a leading civil rights organization after pictures of the event were posted on Facebook.

The three San Diego educators, all white, wore dark-face makeup and stretch jumpsuits to portray Jamaican bobsledders at a weekend costume party at the home of one of the men.

"African-Americans are very offended by blackface, and we found nothing funny when we saw that picture was posted," said Lei-Chala Wilson, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's San Diego branch.

It was at least the third incident this year in which costumed white revelers wearing blackface drew criticism.

In February, New York state Democratic Assemblyman Dov Hikind wore blackface makeup and donned an Afro-style wig at a party celebrating the Jewish holiday of Purim, a costume that was criticized by fellow lawmakers and the Anti-Defamation League bias monitoring group.

This week, actress Julianne Hough apologized after wearing dark makeup and a knotted hairdo at a costume party to portray an African-American character from the television show "Orange is the New Black."

Blackface was often used in minstrel shows in the 19th and early 20th centuries featuring white performers portraying African-Americans, often in a degrading manner. It is considered deeply offensive by many people.

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