A white California teacher is on administrative leave after video showed him in blackface rapping along to an artificial intelligence commercial featuring Microsoft spokesman and rapper Common.
Milpitas High School student Karrington Kenny tweeted Halloween video of the teacher, identified by San Jose Inside as David Carter, Friday. It has since, been shared close to 2,000 times.
The video showed Carter in a white turtleneck, a black jacket and bald head with black paint on his face.
“Opportunities limitless, possibilities senseless, what will you do,” the teacher rapped off beat. “Millions of people, not enough to eat, what will we do? With AI, Microsoft technology, the future is up to you, you can do it. With AI. The future will blow your mind.”
Kenny, vice president of the school’s Black Student Union, told Mercury News Sunday another student sent her the video, and since seeing the footage, she said it’s clear the teacher should be fired.
“In this community, we honestly don’t have room for people, especially people who want to dress up in blackface, to come in here and still try to educate people on topics like this,” she said. “That doesn’t make sense that he gets to stay, and continue working there when he thought this type of behavior was appropriate.”
She added in the Mercury News interview that “he really didn’t have to do blackface in order to represent somebody.”
“He really should have known better, especially him being a former history teacher,” Kenny said.
The school, in the Milpitas Unified School District, is about 12 miles north of San Jose in the city of Milpitas, which has a mostly Asian population and a Black population of less than 4 percent, according to U.S. Census data.
School board president Chris Norwood, a Black man, issued a statement Sunday on the district Facebook page saying the teacher was put on administrative leave.
“District administration has placed the staff member on Administrative leave and I have asked the Superintendent to ensure an immediate investigation is conducted,” Norwood said.
He called the teacher’s actions “inappropriate, unprofessional and insensitive.”
“As an African American man, the history of Blackface… reminds me of the cruelty, hatred and fear my parents and people of African Ancestry have dealt with in the past and still experience today around the world,” Norwood said. “Unfortunately, Blackface still permeates global society today through social media, comedy and fashion.”
District Superintendent Cheryl Jordan and Milpitas High School Principal Francis Rojas also issued a joint statement Sunday on the district’s Facebook page.
“It is essential that every MUSD student and parent/guardian can expect to have a safe environment in which they can feel respected and valued,” they said. “The actions of a staff member on Halloween adversely affected this expectation because of the choice to wear blackface paint.”
Jordan and Rojas also confirmed in the statement that the teacher was put on leave and that “appropriate action will be taken pending further investigation.”
They said: “In a school community where we welcome learners and families from over 50 languages who represent cultures and religions throughout the world, and where our long-standing neighborhood, Sunnyhills, was established as the first city in the nation for planned integration, it hurts to know that this type of cultural insensitivity and lack of cultural awareness still hovers in the background.”