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First-grade teacher showed up in blackface for a Halloween party, Iowa district says

Doing blackface for a costume led to an investigation of Megan Luloff, teacher at Davenport School District in Iowa, officials say. Megyn Kelly has been under fire for comments she made about blackface on her show.
Doing blackface for a costume led to an investigation of Megan Luloff, teacher at Davenport School District in Iowa, officials say. Megyn Kelly has been under fire for comments she made about blackface on her show. Screenshot from The Root Twitter account

A white Iowa teacher is under fire after photos appear to show her darkening her skin so she could look like a character from “Napoleon Dynamite.”

Art Tate, superintendent of the Davenport School District in Iowa, told the Quad-City Times in an email that Megan Luloff — a first-grade teacher at Walcott Elementary — is under investigation for showing up to a Halloween party on Friday with a face painted black as she tried to emulate Lafawnduh, a black character in the 2004 movie.

The Associated Press reported that Luloff did not respond to a request for comment.

Linda Hayes, vice president of the district’s school board, told the Quad-City Times that the decision to do blackface — and then have the photos shared online — is harmful for minority students.

“I cannot clearly articulate how offensive and appalling it is to people of color,” she said, according to the newspaper. “In light of our recent developments within the district, this was in very poor taste, not to mention totally out of line with regard to professionalism.”

The school district wrote in a statement that it will make a decision about Luloff’s employment after the investigation is complete, according to The Root.

“The district strives to provide a quality education enriched by our diverse community, in a fair and supportive environment for all,” the statement read. “The images run counter to the respect, values, and beliefs the district promotes and should not be a reflection on the District as a whole.

“This situation is not taken lightly by any member of the board,” it continued. “The district will determine how to best address the matter after further investigation.”

This news comes after Megyn Kelly is facing fire for her comments defending those who do blackface if it is for a Halloween costume.

She asked on a Tuesday segment of her show “Megyn Kelly Today” “what is racist” about blackface.

“You truly do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface at Halloween or a black person who puts on whiteface for Halloween,” she said on the TV show. “That was OK when I was a kid, as long as you were dressing like a character.”

Video shows Kelly’s on-air guests pushing back against her argument that blackface is OK in certain circumstances.

As explained by Vox, the history of blackface is rooted in minstrel shows in the late 1800s, which involved white actors painting their face black to make dehumanizing caricatures of African-Americans.

“To be clear, these weren’t flattering representations,” Vox wrote. “At all. Taking place against the backdrop of a society that systematically mistreated and dehumanized black people, they were mocking portrayals that reinforced the idea that African-Americans were inferior in every way.”

Kelly has since apologized for her comments. CNN reported that after Kelly’s comments, two people “familiar with the matter” told them her show is expected to be taken off TV.

Variety has reported that Kelly and NBC executives are searching for a new job the journalist could have at their organization.

Her show was not running live on Thursday, instead using a rerun. A spokesperson for NBC told Fox News that “given the circumstances, Megyn Kelly Today will be on tape the rest of the week.”

An Atlanta charter school has apologized for a black-history program in which second graders recited Paul Lawrence Dunbar’s poem “We Wear the Mask” while holding up blackface masks. It sparked outrage from parents and on social media

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