Teacher at California High School Suspended After Wearing Blackface to Imitate Common on Halloween

A teacher at a California high school who wore blackface on Halloween while imitating rapper Common has been placed on administrative leave.

The unidentified Milpitas Unified School District staff member “chose to wear black face paint and satirically imitate a TV commercial and well known national social activist of the African American community,” school board president Chris Norwood, who is African American, said in a statement Sunday.

Norwood said the staff member’s actions were “inappropriate, unprofessional and insensitive” and that he has asked the superintendent to ensure an immediate investigation is conducted.

The Oct. 31 incident was widely condemned by such organizations as the NAACP of Silicon Valley, Santa Clara County Alliance of Black Educators and San Jose African American Community Service Agency, among others, according to Norwood.

A video posted on Twitter Friday night appears to show the teacher standing at the front of a classroom, imitating Common, who is the face of a national advertising campaign for Microsoft’s artificial intelligence technology. The teacher wore a white turtleneck and black jacket, as Common did in a Microsoft commercial last year.

“Opportunities limitless, possibilities senseless, what will you do?” the teacher rapped in the video. “Millions of people, not enough to eat, what will we do? With A.I. Microsoft technology, the future — it’s up to you. You can do it. With A.I., the future will blow your mind.”

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SOURCE: NBC News, Janelle Griffith