Davenport teacher faces backlash after appearing in blackface


Photo credit: Gage Skidmore via Flickr under Creative Commons license

A character from the 2004 comedy, Napoleon Dynamite, holding a sign with character LaFawnduh’s name.

Hope Sickels, Staff Contributor

Megan Luloff, an elementary teacher for the Davenport School District, presented herself at a non-school related Halloween party in blackface on Oct. 19. She was dressed up as Lafawnduh, an African American character in the film “Napoleon Dynamite,” for the public Halloween event located at the Walcott American Legion.

Luloff teaches first grade at Walcott Elementary School. The administration is undergoing an investigation on Luloff because of her choice of costume for the “Boos Bash” she attended. Superintendent Art Tate said in an email, “The wearing of blackface is never appropriate in any circumstance by any person, the issue is under investigation by the district.”

The concern with this incident has caused Luloff’s choice of dress to become national news.

The backlash this costume has created among parents and professionals is surrounded by negative commentary. The president of the Iowa-Nebraska NAACP, Betty Andrews, strongly believes Luloff should be dismissed from her job. Andrews sees any reports of blackface as disturbing and wouldn’t want Luloff teaching her own children.

Linda Hays, the Vice Principal for the board at Walcott, made a comment about Luloff’s choice. Stating beforehand how offensive her costume was to people of color, she also said, “In light of our recent developments within the district, this was in very poor taste, not to mention totally out of line with regard to professionalism.”

Luloff recently apologized for appearing to the event with black makeup all over her face. She claims to have not been aware of the term “blackface” or its significance in the past. Since then, she has done research about the term and its history. A statement from her lawyer, Catherine Cartee, said, “She will use this experience to help herself and others be more aware and sensitive to cultural diversity and history.”

On Thursday, a statement from a spokeswoman of the district stated that Luloff’s position in the school will continue. Her unawareness and little knowledge about appearing in blackface created much backlash for Luloff, but it was decided that the event was unrelated to her job. Luloff has admitted to having strong regrets about her poor choice.