Oregon Public School Employee Suspended for Going to Work in Blackface
In SummaryAn Oregon school employee has found herself on suspension and at the center of controversy after she showed up to work in Blackface and called herself Rosa Parks.
A staff member at a Portland, Oregon high school has been suspended after wearing blackface in protest of a vaccine mandate for all school district employees, as reported by The Newberg Graphic’s Ryan Clarke.
Lauren Pefferle, a special education assistant at Mabel Rush Elementary School in Newberg, reportedly told a coworker she wanted to dress up as Rosa Parks and use her actions to protest a rule requiring school district employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19. She was immediately removed from the campus and placed on administrative leave.
In an effort to combat the spread of COVID-19, Oregon governor Kate Brown announced on August 19 that all teachers, educators, support staff, and volunteers in K-12 schools will be required to be fully vaccinated by October 18 or six weeks after full FDA approval, whichever comes first.
Superintendent Dr. Joe Morelock said in a statement that he, along with nearly every other staff member, is “horrified, angry, and ashamed” this happened, adding Pefferle’s actions go against everything he believes and is unfathomably disrespectful.
“If we had the power to entirely eliminate deep-seated racism, we would in a heartbeat,” he said. “But the painful truth is that clearly, racist behavior exists in our town, in our state, and our world—not just in the major and overt ways we’ve seen recently, but in subtle ways that affect people of color every single day. We must interrupt and respond; we must do better.”
Morelock also addressed the terrible historical context of blackface, noting how it was used to misrepresent and demonize Black communities and how much harm and pain it still causes. He added that recent social media references to our country’s horrifying history of slavery have had devastating consequences for students, whom they love and serve.
“In this context, we say again that Newberg Public Schools and its staff condemn racism in all its forms in the strongest terms possible,” he said. “Our administration and staff are working hard to create schools where each and every student belongs, as we move forward together in our mission of safely educating students.”