Daily Mail reports:
A white Seattle teacher has been placed on paid leave after wearing a Michael Jordan costume to school – which students called cultural appropriation.
Peter Colino, a math teacher at Ingraham High School, wore a Michael Jordan rubber mask, the NBA star’s Chicago Bulls jersey, a sweatband and black gloves to class on Halloween.
A video of Colino in the costume spread throughout the school quickly after it was shared on Snapchat – but it also led to a parent complaining to the principal.
Colino has apologized to his students, but said he’s worn the same costume to the school for 18 years and insists his intent was to ‘honor’ Jordan, not cause offense.
But one mother said she was ‘floored’ when her son, who is black and a former student of Colino’s, sent her screenshots of him in the costume.
‘I couldn’t even believe the lapse of judgement,’ she told The Stranger.
‘He was just disgusted. I was very grateful that he’s not in that man’s class anymore.’
Colino said he does the stunt every year to connect with his students and get them excited about being in his math class.
He tells them Jordan is coming to visit, and arrives in costume before playing a five-minute highlight reel of the legendary athlete’s greatest moments.
‘He is, to me, the greatest, I’m going to say, athlete of all time and my whole deal is to honor Michael Jordan,’ Colino told Kiro 7.
Some students, including Dillon Mahone, found it funny.
‘I laughed. It was funny. I didn’t mind it, seemed cool to me,’ he said.
But others called his costume cultural appropriation.
And after a complaint to the principal, Colino took his mask off and didn’t wear it for the rest of the day.
The following day, he apologized to the students in each of his classes and spoke with them about race.
On Thursday, Colino was told he was being put on paid administrative leave pending an investigation.
He also met with Ingraham’s Black Student Union that day to apologize.
The group’s vice president Eden Gevremariam said: ‘We are all able to learn from this and now people know this kind of thing shouldn’t happen.’
‘I’m not a perfect teacher. I’ve always wanted to be a better teacher. But please don’t equate me with blackface or racism,’ Colino told Kiro 7.
‘I understand it was perceived what I did was wrong, and I’m so sorry for that.’
He added: ‘In retrospect I should have been more aware. Thinking about it in these times of Black Lives Matter.’
Colino said his Jordan mask has been ‘retired because I do not want anybody else to feel hurt or infringed upon.’
His students told the local station that they do not believe Colino meant to cause offense.
In a letter sent home to parents, the school’s principal said Colino’s behavior ‘is in opposition to Ingraham’s values of racial diversity and inclusivity and have impacted our students negatively.’