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’It’s not a joke’: Teacher resigns amid blackface social media post fall out

Former U-Pike BSU President gives background on blackface
Published: Jul. 1, 2020 at 4:59 PM EDT
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PIKE CO., Ky. (WYMT) - Tuesday a Pike County middle school teacher resigned from her position as a math teacher and softball coach at Belfry Middle School, following a Snapchat of her depicting blackface with what many are calling a racially charged comment below it.

”We will not accept inappropriate behavior from our students or our staff or anyone else. If a violation occurs we will, we will deal with it,” said Pike County Schools Superintendent Reed Adkins.

Adkins is responsible for 1,800 employees and says the district has a social media policy.

“From time to time we’ll have issues arise, and we will have violations and again they’re of varying degrees, but we will handle those varying degrees appropriately,” added Adkins.

Blackface has a long history in America, one that is rooted deep in racism.

“Jim Crowe was not a black man, Jim Crowe was a white man in blackface,” said former University of Pikeville Black Student Union President William Wheeler, III.

Wheeler saw the post on Facebook and was hurt by its connotations.

“Honestly, I think it’s the responses that came from it. The people that defended this, and especially the people that were like ‘all lives matter',” said Wheeler.

According to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the origins of blackface and Jim Crowe date back to the mid-19th century. Then what was called Minstrel Shows would depict white actors in blackface.

The first of these shows were in the 1830′s.

“Some people don’t really understand that they portrayed black people in ways that are, even still today, are offensive,” said Wheeler. “The watermelon jokes all started with blackface, the fried chicken jokes, blackface. You know, all those jokes they started with blackface.”

Wheeler is originally from New York but, is entering his senior year at UPike.

The teacher in the photo is a University of Pikeville Alumni.

“One thing we’re big on at UPike is were one big family, and she’s still part of that family. She has a lot of learning to do. But, I would absolutely sit down and talk with her,” said Wheeler.

Wheeler is not looking to shame the now-former teacher but rather educate her on why the post is offensive and hopefully, those actions can turn into something good.

“She’s already been hurt, she’s lost her job,” said Wheeler. “Maybe somewhere down the line, she will join this ride were on to racial justice.”

WYMT has reached out to representatives of the former teacher. We have not heard back.

Copyright 2020 WYMT. All rights reserved.

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