A pair of woke activists in Arizona who push diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts at the Scottsdale Unified School District embarrassed themselves recently when they accused a black entertainer hired for a local school event of wearing wearing blackface.
The episode, first reported by the Arizona Daily Independent, stemmed from an April 9 fundraiser for Phoenix's Hopi Elementary School put on by the Hopi PTA.
The PTA hired DJ Kim Koko Hunter, who is black, to play at the 1970s Disco-themed event. Attendees posted photos from the event on social media accounts, including one photo featuring Hunter in seventies garb with other eventgoers.
Two wokesters, Stuart Rhoden and Jill Lassen, who actively work to implement left-wing DEI standards at SUSD saw the image and attacked the Hopi Elementary PTA, accusing the group of hiring a DJ who was in blackface.
Rhoden, who, according to the Daily Independent, is an instructor for Arizona State University and a member of the SUSD's Equity and Inclusion Committee, did not appreciate being called out for claiming Hunter was in blackface and complained on Facebook about parents being "all up in my DMs" over his false accusations. In fact, he even doubled down on the blackface assertions, claiming that Hunter, a black man, was actually in blackface because he allegedly appeared to be "in darker make-up," and blasting critics for assuming he thought the DJ was a white man (while admitting that might have been his assumption, but he wasn't about to cop to it).
"Let me be clear, a Black man, apparently in Black face is an entirely different discussion than a White person," Rhoden wrote. "However I did not state that the person was White. It was assumed that was my intent, and perhaps it was, but nonetheless, looking on his FB page (photos below), it seems at the very least he is in darker make-up if not 'Black face' or I am completely mistaken and it's the lighting of the patio."
The other accuser, Jill Lassen, is the co-chairman of the Scottsdale Parent Council's Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee, which pushes the DEI agenda in the SUSD — a privilege for which the school district reportedly pays.
According to messages obtained by the Daily Independent, Lassen sent a letter to Hopi PTA President Megan Livengood, accusing the organizers of using a DJ in blackface.
Livengood was offended by Lassen's letter and replied by smacking both Lassen and the SPC.
"The Scottsdale Parent Council is an organization that claims to encourage diversity and inclusion; accusing the Hopi PTA and myself a hiring a DJ that participated in racist behavior is absolutely against your mission," Livengood wrote. "The DJ that the Hopi PTA hire was, in fact a Black man. It is insulting that you feel myself or PTA condone racist behavior or encourage it by posting on social media. After such a successful event to support our school it’s disheartening to ... believe in organization we pay to be part of [SPC] would send out such an aggressive response without checking the facts first or simply picking up the phone to discuss."
"Your accusations are false and hurtful on both the PTA level and a personal level," she continued. "I know the goal of the Scottsdale Parent Council is to unite the educational community and you are doing the complete opposite. I will encourage Hopi PTA not to be part of this group in the future."
Lassen, likely seeing that vital funding was at stake, attempted to make amends, according to an email published by the Daily Independent.
"You are right, we should’ve reached out and inquired before making such accusations," Lassen wrote to Livengood. "I cannot fathom the hurt, anger and frustration you felt after you and others volunteered countless hours on your event. Again I truly apologize. I hope that you can find it in your heart to forgive me and not harbor resentment towards SPC."
The SUSD and the Hopi PTA did not respond to requests for comment from the Daily Mail.
Hunter addressed the kerfuffle with good humor in an interview with James Harris posted Friday, assuring the host that he had never worn blackface.
He said his initial response to Rhoden's accusations that a black man was wearing blackface was "Whoa" in a way that was "so loud that every horse in the nation came to a screeching halt."
Hunter added that he "would really love to know not just how but why" Rhoden and others would accuse him of being in blackface, when it seemed obvious that he was a black man.