"It's not hard. White people: Do not wear blackface. Life will still be okay if you don't ever, ever, ever wear blackface. OKAY? GREAT."
Those were the sentiments of actress Martha Plimpton just a few days ago, after another well-known Hollywood actress, Jullianne Hough, was photographed in blackface at a Halloween event.
The Hough costume was just one of a number of recent “blackface” incidents, including one of a Massachusetts man dressed as Trayvon Martin, wearing blackening makeup on his face.
Plimpton’s words seem like good advice. There are quite literally thousands, if not millions, of possible Halloween costumes. Why do some white people insist on impersonating black people in a way that’s historically associated with racist mockery?
Whatever the reason, it happened yet again this week -- at a San Diego high school when two white football coaches dressed as the Jamaican bobsled team depicted in the movie Cool Runnings, complete with dark brown facial makeup.
Serra High coaches Brian Basteyns and Harold Seeley wore the makeup to a college football game on Saturday. One of the coaches even posted a photograph of the two of two of them to his Facebook page (see accompanying photo).
Basteyns is the team's head coach. Seeley is an assistant coach.
The San Diego Unified School Board promises an investigation into the incident.
“If there is inappropriate behavior, that needs to be dealt with by the superintendent and her staff,” Board Trustee John Lee Evans said. “We take these situations very seriously because we hold our employees to a very high standard.”
But Serra High players, including some who are African American, say the whole thing was a joke and they are not offended. In fact, they defend their coaches as positive role models.
"They always tell us good morals," said player Xavier Miller, who said the photo of his coaches made him laugh. "We always have to represent Serra football when we're outside of Serra."
Team captain Richard Price, also African American, and who also said he found the photo funny, said that Basteyns apologized to the team.
"He's an emotional guy, but I've never seen him break down like that," said Price, "He was really upset that these allegations were happening and he felt as if he really did something wrong and he really wanted to express to us his apologies."
Not everyone at the school is as sanguine about the incident.
History teacher Peggy Spates reflected the views of numerous parents, saying, “There's just certain things you don't do. You don't call people the N-word or any other racial epithet. You don't put black on your face. I don't care what team you're trying to represent."
SOURCES: ABC 10 News, NBC 7 San Diego, TV Guide, Associated Press