I know that wearing blackface on Halloween is a bad idea. You know it too. And, now, so does Megyn Kelly.
But not everyone got the memo.
From blackface to pink slip.
Like a nurse in Kansas City, reports Lisa Gutierrez at the Kansas City Star (here). The employee posted a picture of herself on social media dressed as Beyonce, complete with blackface. And that didn’t go over others who viewed the photo online. According to the story, one Facebook user complained about the nurse and wrote that “I do not feel that it is safe having a racist employee working with the public.” Subsequently, the hospital investigated and not the hospital no longer employs the nurse.
Of course, dressing up in blackface as Beyonce is bad. But, could you imagine someone going full ‘Mammy’ for Halloween?
Amber Jayanth at Fox19 reports (here) about an employee who, yeah, OMG!
But, wait, it gets worse. According to the report, the woman showed up to work in the costume, jumped on a conveyor belt, and started dancing. Fox19 reports that she is now unemployed.
Mixing politics and Halloween goes wrong for a group of teachers.
Alanna Vagianos at Huffington Post has the details (here):
A photo of about a dozen staff members wearing the costume was posted to the Middleton School District’s Facebook page Thursday evening, the Idaho Press reports. The border wall reads “Make America Great Again,” while the staffers who dressed up as Mexicans are wearing sombreros, ponchos and holding maracas. One woman even wrote “MEXICAN” in big red letters on the top of her sombrero.
Whether or not you favor a border wall, the problem here is the slippery slope from partisan politics into flat-out racism. This is more than just cultural appropriation; it’s malicious stereotyping.
Maybe you’re thinking to yourself, “The teachers were just some having some fun. Maybe, we need to develop a thicker skin.”
(Hopefully, that’s not what you are thinking.)
For a second, let’s put aside the impact that this racist display have on co-workers.
How about the students? Here’s more from a report from the Idaho Press:
Juan J. Saldaña from the Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs said they received calls from concerned parents and residents all day Friday. Some parents with preschool-aged children in Middleton asked if they should try to enroll their children in another district, Saldaña said.
“Hispanic parents, a lot of them and especially non-English speaking parents already feel intimidated going into the school,” Saldaña said. “And how does that make students feel? They get it from students, and now they’re getting it from teachers, too.
And in the Beyonce example, how about the patients to whom the nurse may provide care? African American patients could have a reason for concern, which may lead to choosing other health care providers at other hospitals.
If you tolerate behavior like this, between the bad press and the upset customers, it can end up being bad for business.
For more on political discussions at work, check out this resource from SHRM.