A Miami day care is receiving backlash after parents accused the private child care provider of dressing children in blackface to celebrate Black History Month.
Courtney Politis, whose children are enrolled at Studio Kids Daycare, said another parent notified her of a photo of toddlers whose faces were painted with black face paint.
“She calls me and she’s like, ‘You won’t believe the photos that were sent to me from this classroom,’” Politis told NBC Miami. “... She told me they painted all the kids’ faces black and said, ‘Happy Black History Month.’ I couldn’t believe it. My brain was malfunctioning.”
After viewing the photos, Politis, who is Black and whose children are mixed race, said she sent the photos to the day care’s owner, who responded with, “‘I’m sorry? ... I don’t understand. What’s racist? We don’t use those words,’” Politis recounted. “And the first response is the real response,” she added.
This isn’t the first time a day care is getting accused of painting children with blackface. Last February, a Montessori day care and preschool in Newton, Massachusetts, was accused of making its toddlers create and wear blackface masks for Black History Month. That school is now permanently closed.
The use of blackface started in the 1830s, when white performers painted their faces Black and acted out stereotypes portraying Black people as lazy, ignorant and as thieves.
Politis and her husband, Nick Politis, have since pulled their children from the day care. Without having another immediate child care provider, Politis said she had to watch them at home this week, which was challenging for the whole family.
“But for it to be my child that has to be disappointed, and has to change his routine, it broke my heart,” Politis said. “How are we going to pull our kids mid-semester from school? We have to go to work. So it’s really just figuring out what’s the escape plan to get out of here, because what else are you teaching our children behind closed doors?”
Politis said the teacher, who is Argentinian, apologized for the blackface incident, telling her it was her country’s cultural tradition. The couple also met with the day care’s owner after the incident, but said they stand by their decision to remove their children from the day care.
“It’s not an accident,” Politis said. “You know better.”
Studio Kids Daycare did not immediately respond to a request for comment.