A health official in Ohio who has pushed to declare racism a public health crisis has apologized for reportedly appearing in a photo wearing blackface, according to Cleveland 19.
Terry Allan, the Cuyahoga County Board of Health Commissioner, confirmed that he appeared in a photo from a Halloween party in 1990 while dressed in blackface as Buckwheat from the TV show “Little Rascals,” Cleveland 19 reported.
19 Investigates has uncovered a top health official posed for a Halloween photo in Blackface 30 years ago.
Tonight, Cuyahoga County Health Commissioner Terry Allan is apologizing, saying the photo does not reflect who he is or ever was. READ MORE: https://t.co/99SADAqkiQ pic.twitter.com/oQdiAWPLlI
— Sara Goldenberg (@SaraGoldenberg) August 4, 2020
Allan apologized for the action, saying he was “very young” and it was “clearly wrong.” (RELATED: Northam Says Blackface, KKK Photo Helped Him Understand ‘Black Oppression’)
“That since then—what I didn’t realize when I was younger is how offensive it is, and I have certainly come to understand that now. That that was very offensive to people, that my eyes have been opened in my work in public health since then,” Allan said according to Cleveland 19.
The photo was revealed weeks after the Cuyahoga County Board of Health pushed to “elevate racism as a significant public health crisis,” citing the deaths of George Floyd, Eric Garner and Tamir Rice.
“Despite all of our efforts as an agency and a community, we know we have NOT yet achieved the system level changes necessary to dismantle the policies and practices that continue to perpetuate racism and inequities in our community. These systems, such as our policing and criminal justice policies, have a long history of unfair treatment and violence against people of color,” the June 2 statement said.
Allan has served in his position for 16 years, and will continue to lead, according to a statement released by the county health board after the photos of Allan were published.
“The situation is an unfortunate reminder of the lack of awareness and understanding that has served to perpetuate the stereotypes of African Americans and people of color in our society,” the statement read in part according to Cleveland 19.
“In terms of Commissioner Allan’s involvement, we fully appreciate how the actions of a young person can be inappropriate and regrettable,” the statement continued. “We also understand that through education and experience, a person can change for the better.”