Oregon elementary staff member suspended for arriving to work in blackface

An Oregon elementary school staff member showed up to work in blackface last week in an attempt to protest the school district’s vaccine mandate for employees.
An Oregon elementary school staff member showed up to work in blackface last week in an attempt to protest the school district’s vaccine mandate for employees. Photo credit Getty Images

An elementary school staff member in suburban Portland, Oregon, showed up to work in blackface last week in an attempt to protest the school district’s vaccine mandate for employees.

The woman, a special education assistant, was suspended after she showed up dressed as Rosa Parks with her face darkened with iodine, according to reporting by local news outlet the Newberg Graphic.

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The school district confirmed the blackface incident on Monday, saying the employee was removed from Mabel Rush Elementary School and placed on administrative leave. In a statement, the district said it "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," the statement read.

Oregon's governor announced last month that all teachers, staff and volunteers in the state's public schools must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18.

The Blackface incident comes just after a Newberg High School student was recently connected to a racist "slave trade" Snapchat group.

The group was made as a protest in solidarity with Newberg’s Black students by a visiting girls soccer team, and the school board’s months-long controversial attempt to ban Black Lives Matter and Pride displays among other perceived "political" symbols.