Perth: North Woodvale Primary School sparks outrage after dad’s blackface at P&C fundraiser

A primary school’s parents’ council has come under criticism after a father dressed in black face paint was awarded the best-dressed father prize at a 90s-style charity disco in Perth’s north.

Photos circulating on social media showed the man with a brown painted face, an apparent dreadlocks wig and a black, green and gold full-body suit.

Although the photos have since been deleted, the man appeared to be dressed as a member of the Jamaican bobsled team from the 1993 film “Cool Runnings.”

The West Australian newspaper reported on Monday that many attendees at the event, hosted by the North Woodvale Primary School Parent Council, were outraged by the use of blackface.

The event, which reportedly attracted around 100 people at Padbury Hall on 25 May, was also immediately condemned by the Western Australian Department of Education.

Director General Lisa Rodgers told the WA newspaper that the use of blackface was “both disappointing and unacceptable” and that the principal had taken action.

“This was an external event for parents outside of school hours – with no staff present. But this clearly does not reflect the culture and values ​​of the school or community,” Ms Rodgers said.

“As soon as the principal was made aware of this matter, he immediately contacted the President of the P&C Association to raise his concerns and express his disappointment.”

Participants in the P&C fundraiser were asked to come in their favorite 90s outfit. Organizers awarded the man a prize for his costume.

In a statement provided to The West Australian, the school’s P&C Bingo Committee apologised for the use of blackface and admitted it was “naive”.

“The North Woodvale Primary School P&C Bingo Committee would like to acknowledge our error and personal naivety in not understanding the complex history of a particular costume which we awarded as the best dressed male costume at our bingo fundraiser on the evening of May 25,” it said.

“We sincerely apologize to the entire school and the Woodvale community for the harm it has obviously caused. We pride ourselves on being an inclusive and welcoming committee within our school and will learn from our mistakes.”

It is not alleged that the father intentionally intended to cause offense, although the use of blackface has been widely condemned in Australia and abroad over the past few decades.

Blackface was once common practice in the early years of American stage and screen acting, and has a long history in Australia through traveling minstrel shows.

In 2016, a Perth mother caused an uproar when she painted her nine-year-old son’s skin brown to represent West Coast player Nic Naitanui at a book week parade.

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