Newberg, Oregon
(SevenMaps/Shutterstock)

Oregon School Employee Suspended for Showing Up to Work in Blackface To Protest State Vaccination Policies

Racial controversies continue to mount at the Newberg Public School system located in the suburbs of Portland, Oregon.

Last week, students in the district’s high school conducted a mock “slave auction” on social media in which they ridiculed fellow classmates and discussed how much they would or wouldn’t pay to own them.

And now, in an even more troubling incident, an employee of a local elementary school came to work in blackface in protest of the state’s vaccination policy.

David K. Li of NBC News reported that an “employee of Mabel Rush Elementary School wore the blackface to evoke the memory of civil rights icon Rosa Parks and protest a vaccination mandate for all public school employees in Oregon.”

Upon learning what had happened, the school district said the employee was immediately suspended, “removed from the location,” and placed on administrative leave.

In a statement released after the incident, the school said, “the administration of Newberg Public Schools condemns all expressions of racism. It is important to remember how blackface has been used to misrepresent Black communities and do harm. We acknowledge the violence this represents and the trauma it evokes regardless of intention.”

“Blackface has no place in our schools, and we are committed to the work of created spaces where every student belongs as we move forward together in our mission of educating students,” the school said in a statement.

According to Li, the school’s Superintendent, Joe Morelock, was unavailable for further comment. Gregg Koskela, communications coordinator for Newberg Public Schools, would not confirm additional details of the incident with the press.

“The district has no comment on any motivation of the employee,” Koskela said. “The incident itself is unacceptable on our campuses, and the action matters far more than any intention.”

As if all this weren’t enough controversy for the school district, local school board officials are also considering an upcoming ban of all political symbols, LGBTQ pride flags, and visible signs of support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

Based on state law, all Oregon public school employees in the state must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18.

 

Related: For more recent diversity and inclusion news, click here.

Latest News

CDO Series: Humana’s Carolyn Tandy

Following the murder of George Floyd, the role of Chief Diversity Officers has become more important as companies started to be more intentional with their diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, which has made the last few years tumultuous for many CDOs. In the first interview of a series of articles…

The Importance of Education-Focused Community Partnerships

Community partnerships focused on education are vital to creating and improving the network that connects diverse, underrepresented students and young professionals with employers seeking new talent. For Stephanie Turner, VP of Inclusion, Diversity and Social Innovation at MITRE, advocation starts at the root of education: grade school curriculum, especially in…

5 Biggest News Stories of the Week: August 4

As the saying goes, the news never stops — but there’s a lot of it out there, and all of it doesn’t always pertain to our readers. In this weekly news roundup, we’ll cover the top news stories that matter most to our diversity focused audience. 1. The Supreme Court’s…

Mastercard Names Ellen Jackowski Chief Sustainability Officer

Originally published at mastercard.com. Mastercard ranked No. 2 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2022.   Mastercard announced Ellen Jackowski will join the company as Chief Sustainability Officer starting July 25, 2022. In this role, she will be instrumental in further integrating Mastercard’s Environmental, Social and Governance…

Seven Startups Join Mastercard Start Path Program, Supporting Underrepresented Founders

Originally published at mastercard.com. Mastercard ranked No. 2 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2022.   Mastercard is expanding its award-winning Start Path startup engagement program to include seven early and late-stage startups hailing from the United States, Canada and Latin America. Carbon Neutral Club, Guava, oneKIN, Palla, SUMA…