An Antioch teacher’s “Scooby-Doo” costume and face painted to resemble the night are causing controversy in California.
According to NBC Bay Area, which first broke the story, the teacher from Sutter Elementary School in Antioch is now on administrative leave after painting “her face dark to represent the nighttime.” The news station reported that it was all part of her Halloween costume.
The teacher was not identified in news reports.
Here’s what you need to know:
The Teacher’s Costume Was Supposed to Be the ‘Scooby-Doo Mystery Machine,’ Reports Say
According to NBC Bay Area, the teacher “had the Scooby-Doo Mystery Machine attached to her body, and her face was painted dark to represent the night with a green moon over her head.”
A television broadcast by NBC Bay Area includes a photo of the teacher’s costume.
The costume concerned a school board member who spoke with the television station.
“We know that there’s a long cultural, historical background to people putting dark makeup on, and there’s a lot of context there that we know is harmful to particular students of color and very particular to the Black community,” Antioch school board member Antonio Hernandez said to NBC Bay Area. “Regardless of what the intention was, we know what kind of feelings that image can provoke in parents, students and in the community.”
The school’s Facebook page shows children and adults wearing a variety of costumes for a Halloween parade.
Some People Defended the Teacher Online, Saying She Did Not Have Racist Intent
However, some people defended the teacher online.
“Another reason why the rest of the world is laughing at us. It’s not like this teacher was wearing blackface as a character. She literally was blending her face in with the backdrop/scenery of her costume. Everyone calm down,” wrote one person on X.
Another person wrote, “So the teacher was wearing a Scooby Doo Mystery Machine Costume and gets put on administrative leave?”
Antioch, California, is located in the San Francisco Bay Area in Contra Costa County. “The hypersensitivity is getting real old and exhaustingly STUPID!!!!” wrote another person on X.
The Smithsonian explains the racial history of “blackface” in America, writing, “Minstrelsy, comedic performances of ‘blackness’” by whites in exaggerated costumes and make-up, cannot be separated fully from the racial derision and stereotyping at its core.”
The website explains, “The first minstrel shows were performed in 1830s New York by white performers with blackened faces (most used burnt cork or shoe polish) and tattered clothing who imitated and mimicked enslaved Africans on Southern plantations. These performances characterized blacks as lazy, ignorant, superstitious, hypersexual, and prone to thievery and cowardice.”
According to NBC News, “Blackface is a Halloween no-no that everybody knows.”
However, some online did not believe the teacher intended to play into such stereotypes because the darkness was meant to resemble the night sky.
A woman wrote on X in all caps, “SHE HAD A MOON ON HER HEAD ITS CLEAR THIS ISNT BLACK FACE SO WTF IS THE ISSUE NOW.”
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