Over the weekend, a photo of a group of school teachers dressed as celebrities ready to judge their school's talent show surfaced on social media. This seems totally harmless, until you realize that one of the teachers appears to be dressed in blackface.
The original tweet has since been deleted, but the photo continues to circulate on Twitter. You can see that the teacher dressed up as Mel B from the Spice Girls, and darkened both her face and arms in an attempt to more closely resemble Mel.
This photo surfaced yesterday of a teacher in Black face at Strathcona Christian Elementary— Bashir Mohamed (@BashirMohamed) May 13, 2018
I'm disappointed this flew under our radar. Let me use this thread to explain why Blackface is racist and why action needs to be taken. #ableg #yeg
On Monday, Elk Island Public School released a statement saying that
“We do not condone behaviour that would be offensive or hurtful to any student, employee or member of our school community, and we apologize for this incident.”
A local activist, Bashir Mohamed, has since taken to Twitter to express his disappointment. He brings up the fact that Edmonton has been known for it's anti-black racism in the past, and that this incident shows how it clearly hasn't been fully dealt with.
Albertan politicians also wrote speeches such as 'We want No Dark Spots in Alberta.'— Bashir Mohamed (@BashirMohamed) May 13, 2018
Once again, central to their opposition was that Black people could not live in our climate.
This is why it's important to acknowledge this history and to remember its context. pic.twitter.com/o7XuHaQo2d
Mohamed's Twitter thread is incredibly informative, and shows just how fine of a line exists between impersonating a celebrity, and dressing up in blackface.
Another twitter user jumped in on the commentary, sharing their experience of blackface at SCA Elementary as a child.
@SCAElementary I attended their secondary school. In musical theater we were asked to fake tan and wore dark makeup to dress as Puerto Ricans for "West Side Story". Black face has a history at this school. This thread is super necessary @BashirMohamed https://t.co/hhqndpKYF0— Stream and Stone (@MrisPeters) May 14, 2018
The Alberta Minister of Education, David Eggen has since commented saying that he finds the actions of the teacher to be "entirely inappropriate."
Source: The Star