Professor explains historical implications of blackface

Professor explains historical implications of blackface

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Decatur City Schools will not discipline a teacher who made international news for dressing in blackface.

Heath Morrow, a teacher at Chestnut Grove Elementary School in Decatur posted a picture of himself on social media wearing blackface to a Halloween party as part of his Kanye West costume.

While many people were offended by the photo, others say they don't understand why it's offensive.
UAH History Professor Dr. John Kvach sat down with us to explain the historical implications of wearing blackface. He explained it all started in the early to mid 19th century as a way for mostly white entertainers to mock African Americans.

"It came from how people felt about African Americans," Dr. Kvach said.

He said although the days of minstrel comedy are behind us, the racial implications are still there when someone wears blackface, even if people don't realize it.

"I think ultimately what it shows is a lack of understanding and in the classical sense, ignorance," Dr. Kvach said. "That they don't understand the past."

Dr. Kvach said what we can do is learn from Heath Morrow's mistake, learn a little more about history and talk with each other about these issues.
"It's allowed us to talk about this in an open form, so ultimately maybe his negative or his bad decision actually lead to a discussion that otherwise wouldn't happen," Dr. Kvach said.

Morrow has apologized for the costume saying "My intentions were not malicious or directed toward any certain group of people. I would also like to say that everyone who knows my character and knows my heart knows that I have never seen color in my life."

Dr. Kvach says this is why a knowledge of the past is so important in the present.

"History is such an important part in understanding where to maybe draw the line in good taste and realize that there is baggage and historical precedents," Dr. Kvach said.

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