Photos of Megan Luloff, 32, a teacher at Walcott Elementary School in Davenport, Iowa, wearing blackface while dressed as a character from the film Napoleon Dynamite have been circulating on social media. The photos were taken at Friday’s “Boos Bash,” a Halloween party held at the Walcott American Legion hall.
Superintendent Art Tate of Davenport Community Schools did not respond to Yahoo Lifestyle’s requests for comment. And a spokesperson for Walcott Elementary School directed Yahoo Lifestyle to statements published Wednesday in the Quad-City Times. “The wearing of blackface is never appropriate in any circumstance by any person,” Tate told the news outlet in an email. “The issue is under investigation by the district.”
— The Root (@TheRoot) October 25, 2018
School board vice president Linda Hayes also told the Quad-City Times, “I cannot clearly articulate how offensive and appalling it is to people of color. In light of our recent developments within the district, this was in very poor taste, not to mention totally out of line with regard to professionalism. We are working very hard with professionals from across the country and within the state to assist with the problem of disproportionality, and one of our own is fueling the fire with blatant racism. All I can say is it’s very sad, and totally unacceptable.”
The school board also sent a statement to the publication:
“The district was very recently made aware of these images of a district employee at a non-school-related event, and an internal investigation is currently ongoing. The board does not condone the insensitivity these images depict and is very disappointed something like this is now connected to our school community.”
The statement also reads: “The district strives to provide a quality education enriched by our diverse community, in a fair and supportive environment for all. The images run counter to the respect, values, and beliefs the district promotes and should not be a reflection on the District as a whole. This situation is not taken lightly by any member of the board. The district will determine how to best address the matter after further investigation.”
Yahoo Lifestyle could not reach a representative of the Iowa-Nebraska NAACP for comment. The group’s president, Betty C. Andrews, told the Quad-City Times, “Depictions like these deliver messages of fear and trauma, evoking images from another movie: the racially propagandized 1915 movie ‘Birth of a Nation,’ in which black people are criminalized, humiliated, and lynched.”
“The revelation that the woman in blackface is a teacher who is expected to provide a safe and equitable classroom environment for all children is very disconcerting,” she added. “Equally as upsetting is that the people around her also seem to be celebrating her appearance. This is not the Iowa that should be a field of dreams for all of us.”
The Quad-City Times reports that the Davenport school district is currently being examined for placing a “disproportionate” number of minority students in special education and imposing discipline.
On Wednesday, NBC host Megyn Kelly created a wave of anger for questioning why blackface is racist. “But what is racist?” she said to her on-air guests. “Because you do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface on Halloween, or a black person who puts on whiteface for Halloween. Back when I was a kid that was OK, as long as you were dressing up as, like, a character.”
Sweeping outrage, including from NBC News chief Andy Lack, led to Kelly apologizing in a statement. The same day, she mysteriously separated from her talent agency, CAA, and her future at NBC is reportedly bleak.
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