Monroe Board of Education candidate accused of 'blackface' for Halloween costume

A candidate for the Monroe Board of Education is being criticized by some elected officials over a Halloween costume he wore three years ago.

News 12 Staff

Oct 28, 2021, 9:14 PM

Updated 942 days ago

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A candidate for the Monroe Board of Education is being criticized by some elected officials over a Halloween costume he wore three years ago.
Republican Board of Education candidate Justin Orlando says he dressed as one of his favorite characters - Tubbs, from the 1980s TV show "Miami Vice."
Monroe Democrat Nick Kapoor says he is outraged over the portrayal and that Orlando "dressed up in blackface."
Orlando responded to the comment, saying, "Choosing to racialize a costume is exactly that… it's a choice. To me, there is nothing racial about it... I dressed up as a favorite character of mine from one of my favorite TV shows and in doing so, was demonstrating respect for that character. Not once did I view it as a racial decision… but they have all deemed it as such."
"He's the one who made a choice to dress up as a Black character in blackface. So, he made that choice not us," says Kapoor.
Orlando says he is running to be on the Board of Education because he cares about kids and the community and despite the criticism, he's getting a lot of support.
Orlando is one of four Republicans running against three Democrats for Monroe Board of Education.
FULL STATEMENT FROM BOE CANDIDATE JUSTIN ORLANDO:
"There is tremendous irony in being harshly accused of prejudice by folks who are actually exhibiting that very behavior when using photos to cast their pre-judgement. They are acting hypocritically by demonstrating their prejudice behaviors in pretending to know who I am or how I have lived my 42 years of life simply by a photo. Choosing to racialize a costume is exactly that…it’s a choice. To me, there is nothing racial about it…I dressed up as a favorite character of mine from one of my favorite tv shows and in doing so, was demonstrating respect for that character. Not once did I view it as a racial decision…but they have all deemed it as such. Not because they know me or have ever reached out to me to discuss any of these issues, but because they choose to racialize this issue to better their chances at this election. Where does it stop? I named 2 of my children after my favorite athletes growing up, Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. Is that “appropriation” or is that honoring them based on the impact they had on me? 
Well, I believe that this has helped drive visibility to what the democrat party in Monroe has become under Nick Kapoor’s divisive leadership and I do not believe that most democrats in this town agree with the actions Monroe CT Dems fb page has taken and hope they consider this when in the voting booth on November 2nd.
These actions show there is no civil discourse, just judgement. The accusations here are pretty severe, yet the individual or individuals behind this post have never in their lives spoken to me nor did they ever reach out to discuss these photos prior to publicizing their harsh accusations. Posting photos of me from over 8 years ago flashing a symbol commonly used in what’s known as “the circle game” and claiming that is a sign of white supremacy is both reckless and irresponsible. These are all attempts at a smear campaign and quite frankly, it is everything that is wrong with our political system. No discussion, just empty social media posts for people to hide behind.
I know that in 35 years of living in Monroe, the one thing no one who knows me would ever accuse me of, is demonstrating any biases. I was raised to accept people by their merit and character… NEVER by race. Which is why I can take your criticism… I am confident that I have lived my life free of prejudice and have had a positive impact on this community.
The real shame of this situation is that we have lost focus on what is most important and that is Monroe school children. I chose to run for this voluntary position because I saw the damage public policy has had on our children and wanted to be a part of the solution, especially for those parents who wanted their right to choose honored and respected. Rather than discuss how democrat positions differ from mine, they prefer to character assassinate.
Although I do not expect anyone to take me up on this offer, I am open to discussing my position on any issue with anyone at any time. I take the opportunity to learn about opposing viewpoints and what drives them. Unlike the individual behind this post, I do not hide from my positions nor will I ever demonstrate the lack of integrity shown in their attempt at character assassination. My commitment to Monroe parents who believe their voices need to be heard remains and my resolve to deliver on that commitment has never been stronger. To all of those who have shown their tremendous support throughout this smear campaign, I cannot thank you enough. You are all very much appreciated!
Ultimately the voters will decide on November 2nd. I hope I earn their vote based on the principles I stand for and what I am committed to delivering for Monroe’s parents and children."


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