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'Blatant disrespect': Colleague upset over Antioch teacher's controversial Halloween costume

Many people have rallied behind an Antioch teacher who was placed on administrative leave over a controversial Halloween costume, but one of her colleagues is speaking out about why the costume was offensive.

The 4th grade teacher who was placed on administrative leave showed up to Sutter Elementary School on Halloween in a Scooby-Doo themed costume with her face painted black.

“I personally took it as disrespect just because blackface was used to mock so many African Americans, my ancestors and stuff like that,” said the teacher’s colleague, who spoke to NBC Bay Area on Thursday and did not want to be identified. “I took that as blatant disrespect.”

The teacher at the center of the controversy wore a Scooby-Doo van and a moon on her head to the school Halloween parade. She painted her face black to represent the night, according to a school board member. Her colleague said she took the van off after the parade.

“Just had a black outfit and blackface. No van, no moon,” the teacher’s colleague said. “She taught in that all day until the last 30-40 minutes of the day. Her African American students in that classroom had to see her like that all day.”

After multiple complaints, the 4th grade teacher was placed on administrative leave. She met with district officials on Thursday, but there was no immediate word on the outcome.

“I would be willing to explain to her and anybody else in the district, I would give them a whole lesson on blackface if they wanted me to, to tell them why this is offensive,” the fellow educator said.

The teacher who spoke out said she’s now feeling backlash from other staff members. The controversy has also triggered a flood of comments on social media, most in support of the teacher in costume.

“They think that Black women and Black people are supposed to be these strong people that don’t have a right to feel sensitive about stuff,” the teacher’s colleague said. “I have a right to be sensitive about that stuff because of what my ancestors went through.”

She added that the district needs to do more cultural awareness training and hire more people of color.

“I feel like they need more Black teachers in the schools, more Black people in the district offices and more Latinas,” she said. “Show kids that teachers can look like them and not in that way.”

The teacher who wore the costume said she’d like to share her side of the story, but she has been told not to talk.

Source: NBC Bay Area

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