A white school teacher in suburban San Jose, Calif., has been placed on administrative leave after his plans to dress as rapper Common for Halloween culminated in him wearing blackface in the classroom.
Friday, a concerned student at Milpitas High School student spotted David Carter dressed in a white turtleneck and black jacket, similar to clothing the rapper wore in a Microsoft commercial and decided to capture him on video.
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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
At one point Carter, who at one time had been an American History educator at the school, attempts to rap about artificial intelligence with a hip-hop beat playing in the background while students sit silently and gawk at him.
By Monday, the video had gone viral with immediate demands that the teacher be fired from the school where only two percent of the student body is African-American.
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“Fire David Carter NOW. As an American History teacher he knows exactlyyyyy the racial context and went through with this anyways,” read one tweet. “In spite of his own Black students well being. Abominable. Get him out of there.”
Karrington Kenny, 16, who is the vice president of the school’s Black Student Union posted the video and said she got it from another student, according to the San Jose Mercury News. But when speaking to the local press about the controversy she said she was in the classroom during the display and that Carter should have “known better.”
“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. That doesn’t make sense that he gets to stay, and continue working there when he thought this type of behavior was appropriate,” Kenny said on Sunday.
In a joint message to parents the community, Superintendent Cheryl Jordan and MHS Principal Francis Rojas said: “It is essential that every MUSD student and parent/guardian can expect to have a safe environment in which they can feel respected and valued. The actions of a staff member on Halloween adversely affected this expectation because of the choice to wear blackface paint.”
“Blackface paint has a historical and present-day connotation of racism that demeans those of African ancestry. The act was disparaging to our students, parents, colleagues and the Milpitas community we serve. Our Human Relations team has placed the employee on leave and appropriate action will be taken pending further investigation.”