An Alabama elementary school teacher is under fire after wearing black face as part of a Halloween costume.
Heath Morrow was dressed as Kanye West, while his wife, Shannon, portrayed West’s wife, Kim Kardashian in a photo she posted to Facebook. The photo was later deleted, but it was uploaded to Reddit on Sunday.
Morrow, of Decatur, Alabama, also wore a blazer, white T-shirt, gold chain and sunglasses as part of the controversial costume.
“I didn’t know dressing up as a celebrity couple would cause so much controversy,” Shannon Morrow told the New York Daily News. “There was no malicious intent in this costume. It’s for HALLOWEEN, the one time a year it is okay. Some of my husband’s best friends are black. There was no racial intent whatsoever.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. He Has Apologized, Saying ‘I See People for Who They Are’
The Decatur, Alabama, school district held a press conference Monday morning to address the photo of Heath Morrow that surfaced online over the weekend.
A letter of apology from Morrow was read by Decatur City Schools Superintendent Ed Nichols, according to WAFF-TV:
To whom this may concern:
I would like to first apologize for my error in judgment. My intentions were not malicious or directed toward any certain group of people. I would also like to say that everyone who knows my character and knows my heart, knows that I have never seen color in my life. I wasn’t raised or taught that way and do not raise my children that way. I see people for who they are, and my wife and I go out of our way to help anyone we can in my profession as an educator. When deciding to dress up for a Halloween party, my wife and I made a decision based on celebrities and the political climate today. I do not want this to reflect on my school or school system based on my poor decision that I made. Again I apologize and this will not happen again.
2. He Is a Fifth Grade Teacher at a Decatur School
Morrow is a fifth grade teacher at Chestnut Grove Elementary School, according to its website.
He graduated with a degree in elementary education from the University of North Alabama.
3. The School District Says It Is Still Investigating
At a press conference Monday morning, the Decatur City school district said it is still investigating, according to WAFF-TV.
Superintendent Ed Nichols said they are “sad by the actions that took away from the focus of the schools.” Nichols said they are looking into the issue and do not condone the action. He said they are planning a meeting with community leaders in attempt to be more sensitive.
4. His Wife Said ‘People Thought Heath Was Really a Black Man’
According to Raw Story, Shannon Morrow said in the caption of the Facebook photo, “Haha some people thought Heath was really a black man.”
He and his wife, Shannon Morrow, have two sons, according to her now-deleted Facebook page. The photo was taken in front of their mantle, adorned with photos of their young children.
5. Blackface Costumes Have Gotten Celebrities, College Students & Others Into Trouble in the Past
Controversy over black face Halloween costumes is not new. Actress Julianne Hough apologized in 2013 after she wore black face as part of a costume portraying Orange Is the New Black character Crazy Eyes.
Earlier this month, a fraternity and sorority at UCLA faced criticism on social media and on-campus protests after they were accused of wearing black face during a “Kanye Western” party.