By Jennifer Brett
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
An Alabama teacher is apologizing after a photo of him dressed in blackface as Kanye West at a Halloween party made the rounds via social media – the latest example of a most confounding controversy.
Teacher Heath Morrow posted the photo of himself and his wife, who went as Kanye’s wife Kim Kardashian, at a private Halloween party, media outlets including, WHNT reported. The photo was removed, but not before it went viral. School officials held a press conference to read an apology from Morrow:
“I would like to first apologize for my error in judgement (sic), but my intentions were not malicious or directed toward any certain group of people,” the letter reads. “When deciding to dress up for a Halloween party, my wife and I made a decision based on celebrities and the political climate today.”
Actress Julianne Hough apologized after a similarly ill-considered Halloween getup two years ago.
Photos of her in blackface, dressed as the “Orange is the New Black” character Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren, went viral and caused quite a stir.
“I am a huge fan of the show ‘Orange is The New Black,” actress Uzo Aduba, and the character she has created,” Hough tweeted at the time. “It certainly was never my intention to be disrespectful or demeaning to anyone in any way. I realize my costume hurt and offended people and I truly apologize.”
While modern-day practitioners may insist they are simply going in character and mean no offense, the history of blackface in America, including demeaning ‘minstrel’ performances, is steeped in racial prejudice. The website- black-face.com offers a very comprehensive history of offensive racial images, including minstrel shows.
And for some reason, the issue persists today.
Just last month, Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington suspended five soccer players for dressing up as The Jackson Five, wearing Afros and blackface, the Spokesman-Review reported.
In a statement, Deen apologized, and said the image was from a 4-year-old Halloween costume event. She said her social media manager was fired over the incident.
Halloween is this Saturday. If you’re feeling uncertain about whether your costume is offensive, Google “Why Blackface is Offensive” to find a wealth of heartfelt, thoughtful and instructive commentary on the topic.