A pair of Arizona “experts” on diversity, fairness and inclusion have come under fire for falsely accusing an African-American DJ of wearing blackface at an event.
Jill Lassen and Stuart Roden, advocates for diversity in the Scottsdale Unified School District in various capacities, wrote scathing letters of complaint after DJ Kim Coco Hunter appeared at a PTA event and they mistook him for a white man.
Stewart and Roden have since apologized, with some noting the irony of “diversity and inclusion” activists jumping to such false conclusions.
But Rhoden was also keen to double down on his original claim and speculated whether Hunter might have been using cosmetics to make his skin look darker.
“When you get so obsessed with thinking everyone is racist, only to come out as a racist,” one person tweeted.
Hunter, the Scottsdale School District and the Hopi PTA did not immediately respond to DailyMail.com’s requests for comment.
The PTA at the Hopi Elementary School in Phoenix has hired Hunter to entertain the public at the biggest fundraiser of the year on April 9th.
It was a success and over $300,000 was raised for “essential programs and services” that are not funded by the Scottsdale Unified School District.
But Lassen and Roden decided to take offense at Hunter’s skin tone, mistaking him for a white man in racist attire, according to Arizona Daily Independent.
The couple complained about the apparent racist incident to the principal and head of the PTA, who quickly clarified that Hunter was in fact black.
DJ Kim Coco Hunter (second from right) was hired to attend a fundraiser for the PTA of a Hopi Elementary School in Phoenix on April 9th.
The DJ, who has 1,500 followers on Instagram, posted a video from a 1970s-themed event of him roller-skating in a shiny gold shirt and sunglasses.
Stuart Roden and Jill Lassen, who advocate for diversity in the Scottsdale school district, complained about Hunter’s appearance to the principal and head of the PTA.
Kim Coco Hunter performed at the Hopi Elementary PTA fundraising event “Hopi Night Fever” on April 9. The event raised over $300,000, according to a Scottsdale school activist. Amanda Ray.
The DJ has 1,500 followers on Instagram, where he posted a video of himself in the 1970s, wearing disco-inspired attire at an event, complete with roller skates and a shiny gold shirt.
The irony is that the reckless judgment of diversity advocates has been ridiculed on social media.
After the fundraiser, Stuart Rhoden reportedly emailed the director complaining about Hunter.
Rhoden is an instructor at Arizona State University and is a member of the Scottsdale School District Committee on Equity and Inclusion.
He questioned the PTA’s acceptance of blackface, where a person, usually white, dyes their skin to portray a black person. The practice has its roots in early 19th century American theater and is now widely considered racist.
In a Facebook post last week, he apologized to “the dude” for the mistake, but then doubled down and suggested that Hunter wore makeup to look darker.
“Let me be clear, a black person obviously in blackface is a completely different discussion than a white person. However, I did not claim that this man was white.
“It was supposed to be my idea, and maybe it was, but nevertheless, looking at his FB page (photo below), it seems that he is at least in darker makeup, if not “Blackface “or I’m completely wrong and it’s patio lighting,” Roden said.
“So, that’s what I want to say. I apologize to the dude for the subtext, but the feeling still stands, Blackface for everyone, in this day and age is problematic. I also apologize to the people who reposted and made other statements based on my assumption.”
In a Facebook apology, Rhoden suggested that Hunter wore makeup to appear darker.
On April 9, Hunter played at the Hopi Elementary PTA “Hopi Night Fever” fundraiser. According to one public school activist, the event raised over $300,000.
Rodin wasn’t the only one who took offense at Hunter’s appearance.
Jill Lassen, co-chair of the Scottsdale Parents Council Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, also sent out an email to complain about the incident, according to the Arizona Daily Independent.
PTA head Megan Livengood responded: “I am deeply offended by this letter, even with the attached apology.
“The Scottsdale Parent Council is an organization that claims to encourage diversity and inclusion; Accusing the Hopi PTA and me of hiring a DJ who engaged in racist behavior is completely against your mission.”
Livengood added, “The DJ that Hopi PTA hired was actually black.”
Lassen apologized in a subsequent email.
“You are right, we should have contacted and found out before making such accusations. I cannot understand the pain, anger and frustration you felt after you and other volunteers spent countless hours at your event,” wrote Lassen, who describes himself as “an ardent community volunteer, activist and ally of the LGBTQ+ community.”
“Once again, I sincerely apologize. I hope you can find the strength in your heart to forgive me and not hold a grudge against SPC.”
The allegations sparked ridicule on social media, with one person tweeting, “More DEI. It works.’
The fundraiser was intended to raise money for “essential programs and services” at the Hopi Elementary School (above) that are not funded by the Scottsdale Unified School District.
Amanda Ray, a school activist, says the couple’s apologies are not enough.
“When these social activists were informed that their accusations were false, they did not apologize, but doubled down,” she told the Independent.
“The SCC is so interested in detecting racism that it will go so far as to accuse a member of one of the communities they purportedly protect of objectionable behavior.”
Ray is currently involved in a lawsuit filed by the father of a Scottsdale School Board member.
The father, Mark Greenburg, says she invaded his privacy and slandered him by sharing the contents of a Google Drive he created without his consent. Republic of Arizona.
According to Greenburg’s statement, Ray runs the SUSD-CAN group, which “advocates for anti-mask policy, anti-vaccine policy, anti-LGBTQ policy, and anti-racial theory policy in the Scottsdale Unified School District.”
In her remarks against Rodin and Lassen’s blackface allegations, Rae made sure to include a few punches in the Scottsdale Parent Council, of which Lassen is a part.
“SPC bills the PTO/PTA/APT of the Scottsdale Unified School District for membership dues each year and then uses those funds to attack members of the community,” Ray said.
“The same organization and its leaders, President Emmy Cardella, accused me of violating the code of ethics last year for questioning the county’s misuse of taxpayer money and violation of the Arizona Public Assembly Law when they knowingly violate their own statutes.