Society

Arkansas School Board Member Under Fire For Costume

| by Brendan Kelly

An Arkansas school board member has come under fire after a photo surfaced showing him wearing blackface, holding a sign that says "Blak Lives Matters" at a Halloween party.

Blevins School Board member Ted Bonner is in hot water after a photo was shared of him in blackface, wearing overalls and a straw hat, with a grin with missing teeth, holding an intentionally misspelled sign that mocks the Black Lives Matter movement. 

One user who shared the photo on Facebook called the school board member a "racist and bigot." They said the photo was sent to hundreds of people by someone who attended the costume party in October.

"How can he relate and act in the best interest of our kids when he makes fun of the struggles our people have been thru," the Facebook post read. "The reason why he did it don't matter, he thinks it's a joke. Plain and simple he's got to go!"

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"Why is that every time you make a joke, it's blackface?" Faye Smith, who has two sons at Blevins High School, asked KARZ. "Why is blackface funny? We have a whole race of people who don't think looking in the mirror is a joke."

She added, "It's a little bit hurtful in the way to think my children are being supervised by a person who feels like that is all they're worth." 

Bonner apologized for the costume at the school board's meeting on Nov. 14, according to the New York Daily News.

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School administrators say they do not have the power to remove Bonner from his elected position as a school board member. 

School Board President Justice West released a statement in which she called Bonner's actions "upsetting and distasteful."

"That action does not represent the values of the Blevins School District, the school board, or our community," West said in the statement. "The issue was addressed at Monday night's board meeting along with a sincere apology from the individual board member for the thoughtless act."

The school district's superintendent, Billy Lee, also released a statement regarding the incident, according to Arkansas Matters.

"This district is deeply committed to creating and maintaining a strong and healthy school culture free of bullying, and any form of discrimination," Lee's statement reads. "I have no personal knowledge of any actions by district staff or elected officials. Please rest assured that if it comes to my attention that any staff member has behaved in a way inconsistent with this district's values and policy of anti-discrimination, a swift investigation and response would be forthcoming."

Sources: New York Daily News, KARZ / Photo credit: New York Daily News

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