It’s only February, a time when we’re supposed to celebrate Black History Month, but it seems as though blackface photos have taken over. And this time, an Indiana track coach was fired after wearing a Bob Marley costume in blackface.
Brown County, Indiana’s school district fired Richard Gist after he refused to take them up on his offer of sensitivity training, after the coach posted his Halloween costume to social media, according to Cleveland19.
“We believe the offensive image Mr. Gist posted, as well the handling of his social media account and the ensuing conversation surrounding the image, showed a distinct lack of discretion and good judgment by a role model,” the school district said in a statement to WXIN.
But according to Gist, he was just paying homage to an artist he respected.
“In approximately 2008 or 2007, or thereabouts, on Halloween I dressed up as Bob Marley, a character that I admire who spreads love, peace and hope,” he told WXIN. “And I dressed up as this person out of respect for him and what he believes and not in the intent of offending anybody or insinuating that another race is superior to any other.”
Not only did Gist pass on the offer for cultural and sensitivity training, that could have saved his job, but he also declined the “cooling off” period and the online civility training both of which the district has pledged to implement for all BCS staff and lay coaches.
Of course, Gist had his fans in his corner who insisted he’s not racist, but since he turned down the district’s deal, they had no other choice but to fire him.