In San Diego, two Serra High School coaches, including the varsity football head coach, one volunteer coach and one teacher face two-day suspensions after they wore blackface at a party off campus for Halloween. The NAACP demanded the school punish them, but the football team, which includes black players, backed their coaches.
Brian Basteyns, Harold Seeley and an unnamed third employee were dressed up as the famous 1988 Winter Olympics Jamaican bobsled team that inspired the John Candy movie “Cool Runnings” at a San Diego State University party. Pictures of the costumes were posted on Facebook. Superintendent Cindy Marten released this statement after the school board met with the employees:
“They are very regretful for the incident and express they never meant any malicious intent to any person or group of persons,” Marten said. “They have expressed a deep sense of remorse for the impact of their actions. They send their apologies to any person or group of people they have offended, and want to make it clear it was not their intention to offend anyone.”
The NAACP started a campaign in 1950 to stop blackface. Lei-Chala Wilson, president of the NAACP’s San Diego Branch, approved of the suspensions and did not find anything funny about their costumes. Tammy Gillies, San Diego Regional Director of the Anti-Defamation League, was also happy with the punishment.
However, the football players, including black players and their parents are coming to their defense. Many said the incident is blown out of proportion. Team captain Richard Price, who is black, told San Diego 10News he laughed when he saw the costumes and said Basteyns would play “Cool Runnings” for the players. Jonathan Ziv said it was a harmless prank, and Josh Garcia said this is what Halloween is all about. Another black parent said there are bigger issues to worry about than what coaches wore to a party.