An Iowa teacher under investigation after attending a Halloween party dressed in blackface says she never would’ve worn the offensive costume had she been privy to its controversial history.
In a statement released through her lawyer, Megan Luloff claimed she’d never heard the term “blackface” nor did she know it’s history when she decided to dress as Lafawndah, a Black character from the hit movie “Napoleon Dynamite”, as part of a group costume with friends.
“In an effort to complete her costume Megan used a dark foundation to enhance her pigmentation to create the likeness of Lafawndah,” read the statement written and signed by Davenport attorney Catherine Cartee. “At no point during her preparation for the party, or during the event, did Megan ever intend to mock the character’s ethnicity or … be offensive to anyone.”
It wasn’t until after The Quad City Times newspaper ran a photo of Luloff at the party with her face painted black that the elementary school teacher says she was presented with the notion that what she had done was wrong, according to the statement.
“If she had that knowledge, she never would have participated in such a way that she deeply regrets her actions,” it continues.
The photo of Luloff sparked an investigation by the Davenport Community School District after officials were made aware of it on Oct. 22. As of Wednesday, Luloff, who teaches at Walcott Elementary, remained employed with the district, a spokeswoman confirmed to the New York Post.
The lawyer’s statement pegs Luloff as a “dedicated teacher” who’s worked with students of all races and ethnicites over the last 10 years. It added the teacher knows first-hand how “sensitive feelings about appearance can be,” seeing as she’s the mother to a child with albinism.
“She knows how hurtful and damaging it can be when you think someone is mocking your appearance,” the statement read. “Throughout history, people affected by albinism have been humiliated, mocked, sent away from their families, worst of all beaten and thought of ‘witchcraft.’”
“Unfortunately, this is a personal experience and knowledge that she did not have at the time with regard to Blackface,” it continued.
The statement from Cartee also accused The Quad City Times of promoting an “already divided” country by publishing Luloff’s photo and said the teacher and her family have received death threats as a result. At the time, Luloff declined to comment on the picture and was still reportedly “completely unaware” of what blackface was.
After researching and learning about the term, Luloff “immediately understood the anger and outrage” over the photo. Angry locals and organizations like the NAACP have pressed the district to fire Luloff. Local station KWQC reported Wednesday that the district had not released any findings from its investigation or possible course of action against the teacher.
Luloff will be “will be eternally sorry for her lapse in judgment” and hopes to use the incident “as a learning tool for the future,” her lawyer said.