Arizona diversity leaders slammed for falsely accusing Black DJ of wearing blackface

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Two Arizona diversity in education advocates falsely accused a Black man who was hired as a DJ at a school fundraiser of wearing blackface. 

“They thought that the DJ there or the person there was in a black face, and the person that they thought was in black face was me,” DJ Kim Koko Hunter said in a Facebook Live video April 12.

The PTA at Hopi Elementary of the Scottsdale Unified School District hired Hunter to perform at a fundraiser to benefit the school on April 9, the Daily Mail reported. The event, “Hopi Night Fever,” pulled in $300,000 for “essential programs and services.”

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Arizona DJ Kim Koko Hunter (Credit: Amanda Wray)

Arizona DJ Kim Koko Hunter (Credit: Amanda Wray)
(Credit: Amanda Wray)

But two diversity advocates who have volunteered for committees connected to the Scottsdale Unified School District, Stuart Rhoden and Jill Lassen, accused Hunter of wearing blackface after seeing a photo of him at the Disco-themed event, according to the Arizona Daily Independent. 

Lassen, a self-described ​​”ardent community volunteer, activist, and ally to the LGBTQ+ community” who co-chairs the Scottsdale Parent Council’s diversity, equity and inclusion committee, sent an email to the PTA accusing them of promoting racism, according to the Arizona Daily Independent. 

Megan Livengood, head of the Hopi PTA, responded to the message that Hunter is in fact a Black man. 

“The DJ that the Hopi PTA hire[d] was, in fact a Black man,” Livengood wrote according to correspondence obtained by the Arizona Daily Independent. “It is insulting that you feel myself or PTA condone racist behavior or encourage it by posting on social media.”

Lassen apologized following the PTA chief’s email. 

“You are right, we should’ve reached out and inquired before making such accusations. I cannot fathom the hurt, anger and frustration you felt after you and others volunteered countless hours on your event. Again I truly apologize,” she wrote, according to the correspondence. 

Hopi Elementary School in Arizona (Google Maps)

Hopi Elementary School in Arizona (Google Maps)

Hunter explained in his Facebook Live that an organizer of the event called a person he works with to inquire whether he is Black. 

Rhoden, an instructor at Arizona State University who has worked with the Scottsdale school district’s equity and inclusion committee, also issued an apology to Hunter after he questioned the PTA’s acceptance of blackface, the Daily Mail reported. In a Facebook post reviewed by Fox News Digital, Rhoden apologized but also showed side-by-side photos of Hunter and argued that it appears he darkened his face. 

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“Let me be clear, a Black man, apparently in Black face is an entirely different discussion than a White person. 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,” he wrote on Facebook April 12. 

“I apologize to dude for the implication, but the sentiment still stands, Black face by anyone, in this day and age is problematic. I also apologize to folks who reposted and made other statements based on my assumption,” he continued. 

The Scottsdale Unified School District told Fox News Digital that neither Lassen nor Rhoden are “employees of the Scottsdale Unified School District.”

“They do not speak for the district nor represent it. As parents, they have previously volunteered to participate in district committees,” the statement to Fox News Digital on Monday said. “Likewise, the Scottsdale Parent Council is an organization that is separate and independent from the district and does not speak for the district.” 

Hunter also addressed the accusation that he was a Black man doing blackface during his Facebook Live. 

“Was I not Black enough? How black do I got to be for people to know that I’m an actual Black person,” he said.

Arizona DJ Kim Koko Hunter (Credit: Instagram/@kimkokohunter)

Arizona DJ Kim Koko Hunter (Credit: Instagram/@kimkokohunter)
(Credit: Instagram/@kimkokohunter)

A petition is now circulating to remove Lassen and Rhoden from the Scottsdale Parent Council and do away with the equity, diversity and inclusion committee. 

“The division being caused Is quite disturbing, in a time when unity is imperative and desperately sought after. Anything other than removal of these members will be seen as tacit complacency by anyone who is paying attention,” the petition states

“The SPC is so intent on finding racism they will go so far as to accuse a member of one of the communities they claim to advocate for of reprehensible behavior. SPC invoices every Scottsdale Unified School District PTO/PTA/APT for dues each year and then uses those funds to attack community members,” said Scottsdale Unified School District parents and public school activist, Amanda Wray, according to the Arizona Daily Independent. 

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Lassen and Rhoden did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s requests for comment.

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