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School Officials Look Into Serra High Blackface Incident

Evening Edition

10News

Two of the men with their faces painted black and dressed as the Jamaican bobsled team from the 1993 movie "Cool Runnings" are allegedly teachers are Junipero Serra High School.

Aired 10/30/13 on KPBS Midday Edition.

GUESTS:

Lei-Chala Wison, President, NAACP, San Diego Branch

Wendy Patrick, SDSU Ethics Expert

Transcript

A photo that surfaced on Facebook last weekend shows two men with their faces painted black and dressed as the Jamaican bobsled team from the 1993 movie "Cool Runnings."

Aired 10/29/13 on KPBS News.

Two San Diego Unified high school teachers will be investigated for allegedly wearing controversial Halloween costumes.

The two are allegedly Junipero Serra High School varsity football coaches.

The teachers were reportedly at a non-school event when the photo was taken, but the incident is causing a furor.

San Diego Unified School Board of Education president John Lee Evans said the incident will be investigated. He said teachers are held to a very high standard of conduct both inside the classroom and out.

"Our staff are members of the community, they’re highly respected members of the community and we have a very high expectation of them," said Evans.

NAACP San Diego is calling on San Diego Unified School Superintendent Cindy Marten to fire the coaches.

"We see no humor in 'blackface.' We are confounded why these coaches would be comfortable wearing 'blackface' out in public. It is still not appropriate, acceptable or humorous, notwithstanding the upcoming Halloween occasion," said NAACP president Lei-Chala Wilson in a released statement.

KPBS' Maureen Cavanaugh, Patty Lane and Peggy Pico contributed to the Midday and Evening Edition segment.

Comments

Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | October 29, 2013 at 3:33 p.m. ― 1 year ago

OK, what did they do; put on dark theatre makeup or something similar? Why is somebody upset about it? Don't actors do this kind of thing all the time?

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Avatar for user 'Alex_Grebenshchikov'

Alex_Grebenshchikov | October 29, 2013 at 4:04 p.m. ― 1 year ago

It was obviously a costume, not a racist hate crime. No one should be offended by this. And these guys are coaches for the varsity football team, so they clearly are investing their lives in many young, black athletes. If they were racist, they wouldn't be football coaches, they would do something else that didn't require them interfacing with black people regularly. Would it be funny if black people wore "whiteface"? Yes, it was hilarious when Dave Chappelle did it.

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | October 29, 2013 at 4:09 p.m. ― 1 year ago

What's the big deal? Some people need to get a life.

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Avatar for user 'RowanMarie'

RowanMarie | October 29, 2013 at 4:13 p.m. ― 1 year ago

Alright lets sit here a minute. These are good teachers no matter what anybody said. Their a asset to the community and school while also good teachers which is severely lacking today.To start of with this was on there personal time and does not and should not effect the school district in anyway. The fact that this has blown up this much is insane. They dressed as characters from a movie because they liked those characters. Society has started being way to focused on people trying to offend one another. Oh no, teachers have life's outside of school, gosh wouldn't have known that. First the fact that racism was the first thing in peoples minds is sad. Let me ask, im half sure no students were asked their opinions. Betting that they were all parents who probably grew up in a less diverse and open minded schools. They enjoyed the movie and the characters so why not dress as them?
Lets all take a minute to bask in the stupidity of the media and society. This is coming from a student by the way. This is just so sad its unreal.

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Avatar for user 'sdreefer21'

sdreefer21 | October 29, 2013 at 8:42 p.m. ― 1 year ago

Fire the NAACP! These guys are mentors to our youth. The work for pennies forthe love of sport and guidance.

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Avatar for user 'Sherry'

Sherry | October 29, 2013 at 9:42 p.m. ― 1 year ago

Can we please have a little more outrage and reporting about how African American students are getting short changed in their education because San Diego Unified dismisses students after only 1/2 day of classes once EVERY WEEK and doesn't even educate them for 180 days a year! Can we please see the forest instead of the trees!

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | October 30, 2013 at 7:23 a.m. ― 1 year ago

Fire SDREEFER. He has been smoking too many of them and we certainly know his anti-Muslim views as well.

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Avatar for user 'DeLaRick'

DeLaRick | October 30, 2013 at 8:30 a.m. ― 1 year ago

This is all Disney's fault!

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Avatar for user 'blackmamba1962'

blackmamba1962 | October 30, 2013 at 8:47 a.m. ― 1 year ago

As an African American in my opinion this PC world is getting out of hand. The intent here is humor and halloween not racism..I do not see the white community getting up in an uproar when Eddie Murphy cast himself as a white person in his movies. Nor do I see the same angst towards Martin Lawrence or the Winans Brothers when they are made up also as white people. It seems we are only offended when it is someone other black wants to portray another race as fun. Enough is enough and I do not think these coaches should be fired as stated by the NAACP.

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Avatar for user 'muckapoo1'

muckapoo1 | October 30, 2013 at 10:20 a.m. ― 1 year ago

What are they talkin bout Willis?

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Avatar for user 'donaldf'

donaldf | October 30, 2013 at 11:35 a.m. ― 1 year ago

Does the NAACP have nothing better to do? There is no issue here. These guys were having some fun for Halloween, not running anyone down or doing any harm.
If all the thin-skinned whiners made a list of what IS acceptable humor I'm sure it would be a SHORT list.
I'm a white guy, married to a Mexican lady, I have a black son-in-law, Mexican grandchildren, and I am not offended by jokes that are meant in fun. I am, however deeply offended by idiots that want to control everyone elses' thoughts to conform to their own view of what is right or wrong.

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | October 30, 2013 at 11:58 a.m. ― 1 year ago

donaldf isn't it funny how leftists always think their opinion is more equal than everyone elses?

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Avatar for user 'dialyn'

dialyn | October 30, 2013 at 12:15 p.m. ― 1 year ago

Tyra Banks recently held an art exhibit where she was made over to look like white models so it is not true that no black person has ever done white face. Maybe because it is "art" and not a costume, that makes a difference. I don't know.

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Avatar for user 'DagoDiablo'

DagoDiablo | October 30, 2013 at 12:21 p.m. ― 1 year ago

This person on the Radio saying she never seen a black man dress up with white face? Have not not heard of the movie White Chicks? The Wayen Brothers did that movie and do ya think us white folks cared? People need to get over what ever and move on with the future. This was all in private. I have yet to hear anyone complain about this including the students from that high school. I guess I can't be Obama or Oprah? We have lost our sense of humor. Do I need to check with the NAACP and other organizations before I dress up? Get over yourselves!

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Avatar for user 'zackgribben'

zackgribben | October 30, 2013 at 12:26 p.m. ― 1 year ago

The fact is that they are public figures in which youth, black, white, yellow, or brown, look up to as leaders. All it takes is one of those students to become offended and upset, which then can bring down the whole moral of a school. They should not be fired, as adults we still make mistakes and need to learn from our mistakes. Firing them will only subdue the needed for remedial training when it is necessary to educate them, as they advance in leadership roles.

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Avatar for user 'zackgribben'

zackgribben | October 30, 2013 at 12:27 p.m. ― 1 year ago

*need

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Avatar for user 'Arnee'

Arnee | October 30, 2013 at 12:44 p.m. ― 1 year ago

Wouldn't it be nice if we lived in an era where African Americans nor any other ethnicity would take humbrage with these coaches? Curious if the lady from NAACP foresees a time where African Americans would not be outraged by this activity?

Where is the line for humor? I think Richard Pryor opened up many whiteys about the shoes African Americans walk in. Isn't it ok for ethnicity based humorists and comedians to lampoon caucasians? I think humor has license to lampoon anything as long as the intention is comedic and not meant to be mean. It's what is in our hearts which is important.

In my opinion, the people of color on that team should have the power to determine these coaches' employment future.

Arnee

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Avatar for user 'RUKind'

RUKind | October 30, 2013 at 1:19 p.m. ― 1 year ago

This Incident should not be an issue. These citizens were at a costume party and in character. As a Marine one paints them self in camouflage. As a clown one paints their face white and silly. As a mime you gotta have a white face....you get it by now. These citizens choose cool running characters G rated by Disney ....because in America we have the freedom to do so. They did their best getting in character just like we want our kids to do "their best" who wants to see a partial costume or not in character acting? Not this guy. Being from San Diego a warm climate with no chance of having a Bobsled team it was a Brilliant idea. When we look at the big picture this team did not set out to be offensive. They just want be in team costumes suitable for athletic based guys.
Watch out for rotten apples.
Kind regards

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Avatar for user 'Mario_Roberts'

Mario_Roberts | October 30, 2013 at 1:40 p.m. ― 1 year ago

It's a shame that in this day and age we still racism like this, of course I'm referring to NAACP. If the coaches where African Americans would it have been offensive? No.

NAACP, do you really think someone who hates a certain race is going to dress up like them?

Was there an outrage when the movie ‘White Chicks' came out? No.

It's disappointing to see racial bias like this and it seems to be on the increase, because no one wants to call out how stupid they are being in fear they would be called a racist.

I hope the schools have the common sense to see how ridiculous this is and clearly see that this is a costume not some strange way of being racist.

NAACP focus more on bring the barriers down not building them.

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | October 30, 2013 at 2:50 p.m. ― 1 year ago

zackgribben you said "All it takes is one of those students to become offended and upset, which then can bring down the whole moral of a school."

So you think we have to make sure no one is offended? What if a student is offended by homosexuals in their school trying to use the restrooms and locker rooms that are not for their genetic gender? Too bad? Why do all leftists want to make everyone follow their rules, and they are the only ones who we have to make sure we don't offend? What if people with blonde hair offend another student? Force blonde kids to dye their hair?

No. The solution is to teach children not to get offended like a bunch of nancies over stupid things.

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | October 30, 2013 at 3:42 p.m. ― 1 year ago

ZG "Firing them will only subdue the needed for remedial training when it is necessary to educate them, as they advance in leadership roles."

I'm curious what specific lessons you would have them be trained on. What would you like them to know that you suspect the currently do not?

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Avatar for user 'zackgribben'

zackgribben | October 30, 2013 at 4:02 p.m. ― 1 year ago

@ JeanMarc - I agree that we should be teaching our students, but as they get older you cannot predict what they get offended about. Coming from a black and white background, I do not get offended much by racial tactics, I figure out a way to overcome. You listed a different scenario then what is happening; a student offending a student, and a teacher offending a student. We as leaders much teach our children right and wrong, legal and illegal. But if we have teachers/coaches (leaders), walking a thin line in society’s eyes, then we have to react quickly to provide understanding to our children. However, not all children are afforded that opportunity to learn and discuss openly the issues at hand. With their thoughts and views going unnoticed, or ignored, then their take on the situation can be infectious. We as adults are not immune to the spread of a thought, or idea. So why are we holding are children to a higher level?...

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | October 30, 2013 at 4:22 p.m. ― 1 year ago

zack I just get nervous when people try to make rules against doing things that might offend other people. I mean, being offended is completely relative.

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Avatar for user 'muckapoo1'

muckapoo1 | October 30, 2013 at 5:26 p.m. ― 1 year ago

The NAACP offends me with their thin-skinned opposition to everything anyone does, while black rappers have an open mike for anything they want to call me. They want it both ways and anyone who complains is labeled quickly to shut them up. Next year will make 50 years of equality. We have a black president, the richest woman in the country (Oprah), a Supreme Court Judge and so forth. Yet, any time they even think they are offended, they beat the same old jungle drums. WAH WAH WAH !!!!!

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Avatar for user 'x76'

x76 | October 31, 2013 at 5:46 a.m. ― 1 year ago

Does "Lei-Chala Wilson" even REMEMBER the much-beloved Jamaican bobsled team? I don't see where any JAMAICANS are complaining, nor do I hear much whining from any BOBSLED competitors. Perhaps someone is taking themselves way too seriously. If these gentlemen had dressed up as, say, the President of an NAACP chapter and found fault with various non-politically-correct issues they could find (in order to define their existence), maybe there would be reason to complain... BECAUSE THOSE WOULD BE UN-FUNNY HALLOWEEN COSTUMES.

Jamaican Bobsled team member costumes? Brilliant. "Lei-Chala" -- take a hike.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | October 31, 2013 at 7:41 a.m. ― 1 year ago

_uckkkapoop1 offends ME with everything he posts.

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | October 31, 2013 at 8:54 a.m. ― 1 year ago

Leftists are offensive to me. Can we ban them?

Nope, I just have to live with other people who have different opinions than mine, and who are free to express their opinions. Just like they need to learn to let non-leftists express their opinions without calling it a hate crime.

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Avatar for user 'mmcphie'

mmcphie | October 31, 2013 at 9:05 a.m. ― 1 year ago

OK, so let me get this straight. Costumes of criminals like mobsters are offensive, but criminals like pirates are fine. Costumes of occupations like Olympic athletics are offensive, but occupations like nursing are fine. Costumes of people who have been discriminated against like blacks are offensive, but people who have been discriminated against like witches are fine? Got it.

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Avatar for user 'sdreefer21'

sdreefer21 | October 31, 2013 at 9:52 a.m. ― 1 year ago

Why does the NAACP feel they have the right to call for someones job? The parents of the students and the administrators are the ones who should be judging this IF it was school related. But since it is not school related how about we step off of this persons right to enjoy halloween. Some more thin skin to go with that sensitivity sweater.

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Avatar for user 'Abe A'

Abe A | October 31, 2013 at 10:33 a.m. ― 1 year ago

The thing that really got me about this interview was that the guest thought somehow she was the appointed judge of what is funny and who should be what on Halloween. Sorry to break this to you lady, but I could not care less what you think of my costume. Thanks for your concern though.

As far as the punishment for the coaches:

Make them watch Roots? Did you really just say that on TV?

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Avatar for user 'sdreefer21'

sdreefer21 | October 31, 2013 at 11:13 a.m. ― 1 year ago

I wonder when the good reverend is gonna take up the cause for those offended on their behalf and without their consent and run with this thing.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | October 31, 2013 at 11:48 a.m. ― 1 year ago

Don't belive the "black mamba" post. I think it's some sarcastic anglo. Just look at the moniker.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | October 31, 2013 at 4:33 p.m. ― 1 year ago

What pretty much every comment on here fails to take into consideration is the history of doing "blackface" in this country.

It was historically done to be mean spirited mocking towards a group of people who were literally second class citizens.

It's just poor taste, and I hear real pain in the voice of the woman in this piece.

I'm not making a judgement of what should happen to the people who did this, but I do think people should keep in mind that something that may be a joke to you can be really hurtful to someone else.

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Avatar for user 'sdreefer21'

sdreefer21 | October 31, 2013 at 4:39 p.m. ― 1 year ago

Maybe the naacp is the one who is racist in the modern era. Maybe they should be for the advancement of all people.

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | November 1, 2013 at 8:02 a.m. ― 1 year ago

PDSD, do you believe that the fact that blackface has been used harmfully in the past implies that it cannot be used non-harmfully in the present?
I think most people are aware that it has been used to mock or degrade, but thank you for pointing it out explicitly. Can you identify some behavior from the coaches that leads you to believe they were doing that?
I can hear real upset (not pain) in the voice of a child whose excess sweets are taken away. That does not imply the child's complaint has merit. It would be a very bland world if the threshold for banning behavior were ‘it upset somebody’.
I read the general tone of the responses to be ‘get over yourself, these guys aren’t hurting you’. How did you interpret the comments?

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Avatar for user 'DeLaRick'

DeLaRick | November 1, 2013 at 9:48 a.m. ― 1 year ago

The Black American male's style is the most copied style in the world. (Anyone who has traveled knows that.) Copying a style is a sincere form of flattery. However, you can't pretend to ACTUALLY BE a Black American male if you are a White American male because of this country's racial history. Wearing black face is not flattery. It's that simple. If Ted Danson did it at Whoopi Goldberg's Friars Roast while HE WAS DATING HER and failed (at a Friars Club roast!), what makes anyone think that a few football coaches trying to be clever are going to be exceptions to that rule?

It was a lame and outdated costume. I imagine next year they'll try to go as extras from Schindler's List or chemotherapy patients.

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Avatar for user 'ApolloDay'

ApolloDay | November 1, 2013 at 9:55 a.m. ― 1 year ago

Personally I don't see the big deal about this story. The fact that this has gotten hyped up is beyond me. I don't see the big deal about them dressing up in black face. It isn't that offensive. I would see a problem if they did things they would degrade black people. I would even be offended if they did this at a school event. They did this at non school event though.

One thing I am offended by is the comments made by some of you guys. I'm not sure if you guys are trolling or just plain stupid.

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | November 1, 2013 at 11:03 a.m. ― 1 year ago

ApolloDay you are my new friend.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | November 1, 2013 at 11:38 a.m. ― 1 year ago

Benz, over the years I have heard of these "blackface" incidents and they always garner controversy.

I can't imagine someone doing this not thinking it would draw attention and offend people.

I believe in freedom of expression and don't favor then being fired, however I believe that, just as they had he right to express themselves, the NAACP and those who find this offensive also have the right to express their concerns.

At word these two are racist; at best they are just really, really dumb if they actually thought this wouldn't cause controversy.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | November 1, 2013 at 11:39 a.m. ― 1 year ago

At *worst

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | November 1, 2013 at 12:25 p.m. ― 1 year ago

Quackster has a point. But why don't we view Al Jolson the way we view BIRTH OF A NATION today?

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Avatar for user 'RLA'

RLA | November 1, 2013 at 8:09 p.m. ― 1 year ago

All the problems currently facing our country and this item garners more comments than the real problems we are facing.
The NAACP could better serve this nation and their race (yes, I used the race word) by focusing on the quality of education and the lack of opportunity for all Americans. They might also disclaim the "gangsta" culture and the rap lyrics that debase women and put major focus on the "N" word.

Sad, sad , sad comments on our times and the misguided focus on political correctness.

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