Seattle High School Teacher Gets a “Teaching Moment” After Wearing Blackface

Comments

2
Jeebuz Keereyest on a Ritz Cracker, this is 2016! Do we STILL need to remind people that doing Black/Red/Brown/Yellow Face is wrong? Seriously, just DON'T do it, m'kay?
3
I know this teacher. Unfortunately, knowing him, it is pretty likely that he was actually ignorant about what he was doing. Not to excuse his actions but he definitely didn't know what he was doing. If anything this speaks to the disgustingly severe lack of willingness to self-educate about racism that persists in white communities
4
You know, even though I'm black, I don't have too much a problem with blackface.

But jesus christ, this is terrible, just terrible. If you're gonna do it, do it right at the very effing least.
6
He did this for 18 years and not a single administrator said "Stop it?" I have no words.
7
Wait. When did the "no masks" become a thing? You people really need to get these memos out sooner.
8
"a rubber mask of the all-star athlete’s face" is not Blackface.

Words have meaning.

If Leftists want to get buttsore because someone wore "a rubber mask of the all-star athlete’s face" have at it.

But please learn what words mean before you misuse them.
9
"the Black Lives Matter movement—the contemporary equivalent of the Civil Rights Movement,"

Bull.Shit.
10
Shocking that it took this long to come out.

But I am wondering if there maybe a double standard at play here. If a non-white person dresses up in a clinton or trump mask is that racist? Can people dress up as vikings?
11
@10 of course there is a "double-standard", but that implies symmetry, which doesn't really exist in this case. This is why "reverse racism" isn't a thing (it's plain old prejudice and/or bigotry, but not racist)

All that being said, it's inappropriate to call this blackface, IMO, it's a mask, not makeup. Find the mask offensive, fair enough, but conflating with blackface is naked clickbait.
12
https://hypebeast.com/2015/10/michael-jo…

i'm guessing he thought that the mask made the difference, and with some masks, like the one i linked to above, i can see why there could be gray area at times. he seems to have had no ill-intent, and is handling his apology well. but that doesn't mean his actions didn't hurt or harm others. seeing the picture of him -- he should have known better.
13
Article is totally out of line. I had this teacher in HS. Not racist at all. The costume is a mask of Michael Jordan and he pretends that Michael Jordan is in the class. Great act. It's not racist to wear a costume portraying a black person. If he was a black guy dressing up as babe Ruth no one would even blink. Disgusting article about a great person. The Stranger should be ashamed they published this filth.
14
I'll go with #13 on this one.

A mask is NOT blackface.

And no, it's NOT OK for POC to make fun of whites because whites deserve it.

Hey but you whites out there who love frissons of guilt -- go for it -- but keep it to yourselves.
15
@13 - generally confused. the stranger article is not an editorial, it is only reporting facts. it actually supports no view and makes no judgement, but lets the story and those quoted speak for it/themselves. what part was filth? the facts? the stranger reporting on facts that happened? even if you don't like what happened -- maybe especially so -- wouldn't you the reader want the facts reported? why would the stranger be ashamed of reporting these facts?
16
Remember kids, if you are a white person/institution and you have interactions with People of Colour (colours other than beige…) and those PoC get offended your ass is cooked.
It doesn't matter if you didn't do anything actually wrong.

google the case of 'David Howard', in WashingtonDC in 1999...
17
Black lives matter, black Halloween costumes not so much.
19
This is what happens when you spend too much time talking about race instead of racism. We shouldn't be trying to air out all of our feelings about race. We should be confronting the fact of white supremacy.

Who gets offended when you don't toe the P.C. line when you're supposed to stand up instead of sit down, or salute, or bow the correct number of degrees in Japan, or use use the white male Christian P.C.-approved word choice after some kind of attack has happened? These old white men who whine that they are unable to figure out how to avoid offending people of color have a thousand P.C. trip wires of their own. Who complains about an Islamic community center too close to ground zero? The white Christian P.C. Police.

It's actually not P.C. to call standing for the flag P.C. Anything old white men think of as normality can't be P.C. It's just "right". "Normal". It's only when the "other" says it that it's politically correctness run amok.
20
What's with the black ski gloves?
21
I'm half Asian, half white, like Brandon Lee. I take offense at white people who dress as The Crow. That's appropriating half-Asian culture and disrespecting my half-asian people! Half-Asian people are a minority, probably more so than African Americans or even Native Americans. We get no representation, get called "mutts", "happa" and "half-breed". Stop wearing The Crow costumes! It's half-racist!
22
@18 You know Babe Ruth was black, right?
23
@22:

Well, there was that brief attempt at a "White Chocolate Babe Ruth", but it didn't go over very well in test markets.
24
Bluelight is apparently back, now calling himself Commentatus whatever.
25
So if I want to dress as President Obama for Halloween and wear a store-bought rubber mask; that's black face?
26
@11: You're correct in that there is no such thing as "reverse racism".
When a person dresses up as a racial caricature (that is not of their own race)? When a person bases their opinion of someone on that person's race? When a person insults another with a racial slur? It's just plain old racism, no qualifiers needed. "reverse racism" implies that racism has some inherent directionality to it, that there are some races that are inherently oppressors and some that are inherently victims.

If you say "it's not racism because reverse racism doesn't exist", you are perpetuating a racist definition (ironically) of the very word "racism". Instead, say what you probably really mean: "it's okay for black people to be racist to white people because a lot of white people have been racist to a lot of black people". And if that's your position, than you're not after justice in the slightest; you're after vengeance.
And now I'm going to do that thing that REALLY riles the sort of Social Vengeance Warrior who thinks that way: I'm going to quote Rev. Dr. MLK Jr. in support of my arguments.
We must not seek to use our emerging freedom and our growing power to do the same thing to the white minority that has been done to us for so many centuries. Our aim must never be to defeat or humiliate the white man. We must not become victimized with a philosophy of black supremacy. God is not interested merely in freeing black men and brown men and yellow men, but God is interested in freeing the whole human race. We must work with determination to create a society, not where black men are superior and other men are inferior and vice versa, but a society in which all men will live together as brothers and respect the dignity and worth of human personality.
--Martin Luther King Jr., "Give Us the Ballot" Address, 1957
27
Hey everyone, I had Mr. Colino as a geometry teacher and I think I should provide some context for people. (1) Mr. Colino is a really nice guy despite being a little awkward at times. He's always kind to all of his students, he never yells, and he tries to get to know his students on a personal level. He emphasizes fun in his classroom frequently (like bringing pie in on march 14th, teaching trig functions through karate moves, or assigning fun extra credit assignments). (2) Mr Colino LOVES basketball, on average he'll spend at least half an hour a week talking about it to his students. One of his extra credit assignments was to make an NBA bracket for march madness (he even gave out prizes for those who got close to the real results). And Micheal Jordan is his favorite basketball player. (3) Mr Colino has always cared about global issues such as race relations and puts a lot of effort into encouraging thought and discussion in the classroom. Every year he spends MLK day talking about what MLK did for our country and makes us reflect on how our lives were impacted by him. He does the same for 911 every year. He really takes pride in the diversity of the ingraham community and makes an effort to make sure everyone feels significant. Everyone has the right to their own opinion I just thought context would be important to know before making judgements.
28
@13, 14, 25: I'm in partial agreement with you all. Wearing an MJ mask and jersey isn't blackface, but he should have done without the black gloves.
That said, it's certainly not worth him losing his job or anything. Make it a teaching moment.
29
But it wasn't blackface. It wasn't dressing up as a cariacature of a race or culture. It was dressing up as a particular human he admires. Like all the little girls on my block who dressed up as Frida Kahlo and are not Latino, or the kid who dressed up as Barack Obama to go with a Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton costume his friends had on. Far from villifying the guy, I think we who seek equity should be happy when white people don't perpetuate white supremacy by only making other white people into celebrities icons, and instead show respect for people of other races. Yes, in part, by dressing up as them. I really hope he doesn't lose his job over this.
30
I thought the problem was the gloves. Yes, it sounds silly—gloves are offensive now? The point is that saying, "I need to wear black gloves to represent this person's 'black' skin" is kind of fucked up.

Think about it. Did he see the need to mimic Michael Jordan's height? Did he shave his head? Was he all sweaty? Did he pose all day in the "Air Jordan" pose? No, but the color of Michael Jordan's skin just had to be mimicked or emphasized. That's what's troubling about this. When white people dress up as famous white people, do they see the need to "match" the color of the white person's skin when it's different from their own?
31
Well, the upshot is that a teacher, who cares about kids and advocates for diversity is suspended for his choice of black gloves. And the Stranger article seems to be the prime motivator of this. I hope you sell a lot of advertising to make it worth it.
32
Look, it was okay for him to do this for 16 years in a row, and in the 17th year, it is no longer okay. Because times change, we grow. Yes, it's a teaching moment. No, the teacher should not be punished for being a little behind in how our society is changing and growing. I should think that he would not don this costume again, and he will find a better way to share his admiration for Michael Jordan. In teaching this teacher what is wrong about this appropriation, he grows. In treating him with loving compassion, our entire community grows.
33
Perhaps it will also be a learning experience for the kids to see that an awkward outside demeanor can have an inside that is supportive. The student cited in the article who posted the picture, ironically, chose to lash out at a teacher who strongly supports diversity at Ingraham. That's akin to profiling. And this teacher has already been humiliated and is now under investigation by the ham-fisted district administration. No good can come of that. The central administration is very willing to get rid of good teachers to avoid a lawsuit. I have seen excellent teachers fired for advocating for kids. This really isn't a "la la la times have changed" situation. We need every good teacher in the district. Gloves and all.
34
The,... "Black Lives Matter movement—the contemporary equivalent of the Civil Rights Movement..."

Now that is fucking hilarious. Like saying "Occupy Wall Street" was the contemporary equivalent of the Communist Revolution."

The fucking hubris and baseless sense of achievement from the left these days. You gotta' be fucking kidding me – BLM = WTF

Hell, Standing Rock has already replaced BLM in the cultural consciousness. The "water protectors" are the 'Michael Brown' of the moment. All the cool kids are onto something else now. Get with the times lefty.

Red Lives Matter -- um' jus' sayin'

And next week we'll all be onto something else, with you fools tryna' Tweet your way to justice.

Please.
35
The only thing this guy should have know better is that some people would take offense.
A very biased article. Assumes that it's "blackface" from the start, a term that refers to the minstrel shows of American yore, where white entertainers performed as generic African Americans. Is this "cultural appropriation" like that? Most obviously not. The guy is just impersonating a specific person he admires who happens to be of a different race. This teacher is probably more forward-thinking on the anti-racism front than any of the "racial bias investigators" that will be assigned to judge him. And he'll probably get to keep his job because he's so apologetic. Lighten up everyone! Let people enjoy Halloween AND enjoy heroes of other races.
36
26

Damn, Junior; that was pretty good.

(and, yeah- the gloves are kind of weird…)
37
Headline still hasn't been corrected….

new story idea:

Leftist Seattle Rag Misses a “Teaching Moment” After Hack Staff Misuses "Blackface"
38
The emphasis shouldn't be only on this teacher. He's done this for over a decade and no one in administration and no other teacher thought it was enough of a problem to do anything about it.

You can certainly argue that this teacher should have been aware of the issues his costume raises. However, it's unfair to single him out for administrative leave and corrective action. If he deserves administrative leave, so does every single administrator and teacher who saw this guy's costume more than once.
39
Read @27 BEFORE you comment
40
@38: I like your thinking.
41
So let me get this straight, this poor teacher is getting crucified for dressing up as his sports hero, just because his sports hero is black? Racism is alive and strong in the American "liberal" movement.
43
A mask of a black man is not a blackface mask. Blackface is Al Jolson and all of those terrible figurines you used to see in antique stores. A white man wearing a Michael Jordan mask is a white man wearing a black man's face, not blackface. He wasn't trying to do Hang Time Sambo.

I went to journalism school for just a year and I can do better than this, fucking come on people.
44
@27 Hey there! It would be great to talk with you about your experience in Mr. Colino's class. Please email me at asknauf@thestranger.com
45
44

did you see the Rolling Stone lawsuit?
change your headline.
46
I'd love to chime in but I'm halfway through Damon Wayans Oscar nominated "White Chicks". Box office slam dunk!!!!!
47
@26 I consider racism to be related to a power structure. If a white man murders a black man due (more or less) due to the color of his skin, that prejudice. When a friendly all-white jury and judge absolve him of the deed, that's racism. Racism is the larger forces that work to keep the minority in a disadvantaged social position; Bigotry et al are the downstream acts that are the consequences of racism. So no, a black person in America outright cannot be racist towards a white person because blacks are not in a dominant social position, full stop. They can be bigoted, prejudiced, intolerant, etc; but without an element of power, it's not racism.
48
@47 This is a ridiculously narrow view of the world.

I'm not sure if you're aware but Caucasian and African aren't the only races on the planet. And America and european colonies are not the only places where racism exists. Black people very much can be racists - as in believe in the racial inferiority of other racial groups. Racist to Asians. Racist to people of latin decent. Racist to other black people. Spend some time around New York and hear black people racially denigrate Koreans and Vietnamese. Or go to west Africa and hear how people refer to, what the perceive to be, other racial groups.
49
Thank you @27. I don't want this teacher to be suspended. His response was swift and sincere. His students agree that he is a caring teacher who had no harmful intent. I want the administration (that released a snarky remark about not having gotten the message across) to take responsibly for letting this mistake happen so many times. I want them to ensure that they have a way for students to openly and safely communicate when they feel uncomfortable so that the two sides can work through it. The kids had a problem, the teacher had the answer. The administration did nothing but CYA.
50
@49 I'll be working to follow up with the school district on this specifically. It's outrageous this went on for nearly two decades.

@3 @13 I'd also be interested to hear about your experiences with Mr. Colino. Email me asknauf@thestranger.com
51
@30 -- Exactly. It is in the article, too:

She remembers that he stood at his classroom door to greet his students and asked each one to shake his hand—covered in the black gloves meant to be Jordan's Black skin.

“I was just a young student,” Mitiku said. “I was startled, because I didn’t know how to handle that.”

The most disturbing part, she said, was the black gloves.
I agree. A mask, sure. Sneakers, check. Stick your tongue out (a signature Jordan move)? Absolutely. But gloves? Gloves!?? Since when did Jordan where gloves? The only way to interpret those gloves was an over emphasis on race, as if the costume was made way more real because the hands were black (even though they certainly were a lot smaller). Really stupid. I don't think there was malice in his actions (he was probably trying to just spruce up the act) but it was really stupid.

Oh, and while this article is fine, the headline is really, really misleading. There was no "blackface" only "black gloves". One has a very long history of racism, the other, not so much.
52
This reporting is disgraceful. Shame on you for smearing this man's reputations and swinging around the word "racist" thus; you diminish real cases of racism.

The man wore a mask--NOT blackface--to dress up on Halloween (the one day a year designated for this purpose) to dress as his own personal hero and teach his students about basketball. I can't believe you haven't redacted this LIE of a title. "Blackface" indeed. Do you even know what blackface is? You should be sued for libel.

He's a much loved teacher. Why don't you put this man's life in context? He is a celebrated educator. You're disgusting, destroying a man's career and reputation--just a for a crappy click-bait story. You are scum.
53
Absolutely ridiculous. Did anyone get mad at Ciara (Russell Wilson's wife) for being Hillary Clinton - a white person? Should I get mad at a man for dressing as a woman? This teacher looks up to Michael Jordan.

Are we going to have WICCA (sp) people upset because people dress as witches?

My son has thrived in his math class. I have never met him and I am NOT offended by his actions.

Stop the madness.
54
wow @comte talk about cultural appropriation using "m'kay" in your comment.
Are you aware that this is anti-Southerner and anti-Louisana? The northern establishment is consistently denigrating of the south and the accent of residents of the southern United States assuming (falsely) that those who speak with a southern accent are "hicks" and "ignorant" -- thanks for proving the point that cultural relativism is anathema to making progress on race issues.
55
"I'll be working to follow up with the school district on this specifically. It's outrageous this went on for nearly two decades."

Finally! An explanation for that literal super highway paved with a generation of tormented, delirious people who didn't know what ailed them but were actually psychically devastated by the sight of their otherwise enthusiastic, competent teacher who felt that dressing up as Mike once a year on Halloween looked more in character if his hands were also black.
Please tell me that a trauma support center has been set up in a safe space for Mitiku and the others so that I can just... stop... sobbing...
56
I love all the semantic bickering over the term "blackface" in this thread, as if some dictionary definition or another determines whether an, apparently, mildy on the spectrum white math teacher putting on a black celebrity mask is offensive or not. What a bunch of clueless pedants.
57
Seriously? This PC bs has got to stop! There is nothing racist here. You don't have a right to not be offended. This guy did absolutely nothing wrong and he has to apologize in an effort to keep his job. So so wrong. This is why Donald Trump. People are tire of you pansy liberals always being offended of something, or a victim. Grow up. Get a life.
58
I can't believe that this article uses "blackface" to talk about a mask of Michael Jordan. What a pile! To not understand how this can effect a respected teacher. A person that was not trying to be offensive. If he was in blackface that would be different. But we all need to communicate with each other. We need to be understanding of each other. We need to celebrate or cultural differences instead of making them so personal that nobody is allowed to exist or speak around anyones differences.
@gscott it is not only liberals get upset in this PC type of situation. Those type of statements are ridiculous and not a path to figure out solutions.
59
Agree @15. The Stranger reported facts. How they are dealt with is not up to the stranger. How the district decides to deal with it is not up to the Stranger.
Administrative leave seems excessive. That is a separate issue.

All if you getting so angry at the reporting, complaining that the teacher's and his appreciative students perspective are not being addressed, seem yourselves to be ignoring the perspective of the black faculty and students. Who were uncomfortable. That is grounds for conversation and learning in a world where we give a shit about each other.
Unfortunately the district's response of suspension seems to have exploded the possibility that caring conversation (and learning, by all parties) can take place.
60
I feel confident that Commitatus, venomlash, Dr Zauis and zoner are all the same person. Same defenses of racism towards blacks. Same defenses of law enforcement. White hot rage aimed towards black lives matter.

Its funny hearing people, white people especially, defend being racist towards a group under assumption that members of that group can be racist as well.

A - Factual instance of racism by a white person aimed at a black person.
B - Presumptive existence of some racists among black people.

Presumption is given more value than fact?

And thats not even accounting for things like C- American history (filled with racism towards blacks), D- Contemporary American racial relations (An unarmed black person is show by a cop on a bi weekly basis at this point, and the klukluxklan has officially endorsed a Presidential candidate; a candidate who is married to a white immigrant, but wants to build a wall to keep brown ones out of America)

In your minds, A is cancelled out by B. If you are white, do you not see the irony in that statement? When you flip that reasoning, you get pretty damning reasoning to assume any questionably racist action done by a white person is definitely racist.
61
@60: Okay you dickweasel, please point to a single post of mine in which I have defended anti-black racism. (No, I am not Dr Zaius, zoner, or Commenter Commitatus; my only accounts here are venomlash and ɥsɐןɯouǝʌ.) I'll wait.
...
...While I wait, let me just remind you that condemning racism against groups OTHER than Africans, African-Americans, and Indigenous Australians (collectively "black people") does NOT equate to defending racism against them. And if you think that there is that equivalency, fuck you, because that zero-sum belief (that the rights and well-being of one group can only be advanced by the tearing down of other groups) makes you a Goddamn racist yourself.

Also, don't lecture me about the "[p]resumptive existence" of black racists. I've faced a few of them myself. I've dealt with black self-proclaimed anti-racism activists who defend the explicit hatred of Jews, those who claim that it is not only permissible but laudable for black people to be prejudiced against white people, even some who call for the ethnic cleansing of non-blacks and non-natives from the Americas.
The more anti-racism activists deny the existence of anti-white racism, the more they allow that same hatred to fester in their midst, corroding the very soul of the movement and reducing it to the very same evil that it was created to fight against. THAT is the basis for my disenchantment and disappointment with BLM. Just because they fight against some kinds of racism does not mean I will excuse their tolerance (and in some cases outright embrace) of other kinds.
62
I always thought blackface was the exremely exaggerated makeup worn in the vaudeville area - black or very dark makeup with big white lips. No person ever looked like that, and it was meant to demean and belittle. Is donning a mask the same thing? Or any type of makeup that would make the skin a different tone? Everyone throws around the word "blackface" but I'm not sure everyone is on the page about what it means.
63
@61.

"Show me one time where I defended anto black racism"

: next 2 paragraphs:

"And here's why I don't have a problem with racism towards blacks...it's because I've experiences racism from blacks! That's means they're all racist too and thus worthy of their hostile treatment!"

Omfg did you read that before you typed it? Thr irony, stacked on the race based hypocritical hubris of generalizations. Come on. Tell me your joking!

And you threw the #1 knee jerk defense to being called out as a racist "I'm not racist, your the racist for calling me racist derpyderp".

Ok officer whitlach/senator lott. Maybe switch to decaff, have a scone and go sit in the corner and think about how stupid the thing you said was. :)
64
62
You are correct.
It is factually false to say the teacher was 'wearing Blackface'.
65
@63: "Omfg did you read that before you typed it?"
It's funny you say that, because I didn't actually type it. Quotation marks have a specific meaning, you know. :^)
Care to show any instances in which I ACTUALLY defend anti-black racism?

I stand by my position that calling out black racists is distinct and different from excusing racism against blacks. I reject ALL racism, regardless of perpetrator, regardless of victim. It's called ideological consistency, m88.
66
@65

Venomlashsaid: "It's funny you say that, because I didn't actually type it.[...] I've dealt with black self-proclaimed anti-racism activists who defend the explicit hatred of Jews, those who claim that it is not only permissible but laudable for black people to be prejudiced against white people[...]The more anti-racism activists deny the existence of anti-white racism, the more they allow that same hatred to fester in their midst, (aka anti racism = anti whiteness, a common slogan for altright racists)."

Sure bro!

No one can read the very unsubtle statements you were not-quite managing to mask about your thoughts on black people.

That you missed (and hilariously keep missing) the irony of your defenses towards hate of black people and BLM is still the most delicious part of your reply.

When you said:" I've dealt with black self-proclaimed anti-racism activists who defend the explicit hatred of Jews, those who claim that it is not only permissible but laudable for black people to be prejudiced against white people, "

Do you not realize that, even if you arent full of shit and actually met SOME racist anti black racism advocates, if you applied those statements towards black people you would not only have the official stance of the US government for MOST of our Republics existence, but the official beliefs of a half to near majority of White americans (judging by trump support and opinion polls on race)?

Your argument is essentially "Some jews were were religious zionists, so the nazis were their mirror reflection/indians wanted white invaders off their lands, so they were as racist as the manifest destiny supporters/60s black radicals hated southern whites, so what southern whites had been doing to blacks was reasonably reflective".

Tell me you arent that daft.
67
@66: I said that anti-white racists do exist and that I have had personal experience with them (in response to your claim that they are merely "[p]resumptive". I also said that BLM is damaged and corrupted by its tolerance of such persons.

The claim that I see all black people as racist, or that anti-racism is in itself racist, is a product of your fevered imagination.
And once again you have attributed a quote to me that I did not write. Can you point to anything I actually wrote in which I defend anti-black racism?