The unidentified educator “chose to wear blackface paint and satirically imitate a TV commercial and well known national social activist of the African American community,” according to a statement by school board president Chris Norwood. He added that the staff member’s actions were “inappropriate, unprofessional, and insensitive,” and that he asked the superintendent to conduct an investigation into the incident.
A video shared on Twitter on Friday night shows the teacher in the classroom, imitating Common, who's the face of a national advertising campaign for Microsoft’s artificial intelligence technology. The teacher donned a white turtleneck and black jacket, just like the rapper wore in a Microsoft commercial from last year.
“Opportunities limitless, possibilities senseless, what will you do?” the teacher rapped in the clip. “Millions of people, not enough to eat, what will we do? With A.I. Microsoft technology, the future—it's up to you. You can do it. With A.I., the future will blow your mind.”
Norwood, who is black, said that blackface reminds him of a history of hatred and fear towards African American people.
Milpitas Unified School District Superintendent Cheryl Jordan and Milpitas High School principal Francis Rojas said the “disparaging” incident has “adversely affected” every district student, parent, and guardian’s expectation to feel safe and respected.
“In a school community where we welcome learners and families from over 50 languages who represent cultures and religions throughout the world, and where our long-standing neighborhood, Sunnyhills, was established as the first city in the nation for planned integration, it hurts to know that this type of cultural insensitivity and lack of cultural awareness still hovers in the background,” the statement said.
On Thursday, TMZ caught up with Common to ask about the incident.
"I think it is important that teachers and people who are educating our children are well educated themselves on things that deal with history, culture, emotional history and emotional intelligence is important," he said, adding the teacher should participate in sensitvity training.
Common also says he is willing to meet with the teacher face-to-face. You can watch the interview, below.