'People need to be held up as an example': Woman fired after WaPo report on 2018 blackface costume

Woman felt 'compelled to revive' the incident following Black Lives Matter protests.

Last Updated:
June 18, 2020 - 1:09pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

A government contractor was fired this week after a 2-year-old incident involving a blackface costume "resurfaced" alongside a lengthy investigation into the affair by the Washington Post. 

A "middle-aged white woman" named Sue Schafer wore a blackface outfit to a 2018 Halloween party hosted by Post editorial cartoonist Tom Toles, the paper reports. The outfit was meant to satirize Megyn Kelly, who earlier that month had issued what appeared to be a partial defense of blackface costumes on her now-cancelled NBC show "Megyn Kelly Today." 

In a roughly 3,000-word report, Post writers Marc Fisher and Sydney Trent explain how several partygoers were offended, and how two of them directly confronted Schafer at the party. She was reportedly largely dismissive of their concerns. The two people subsequently left the party variously in tears and "in a state of, like, shock," according to the newspaper's account.

Schafer eventually apologized to Toles for coming to the party dressed in the blackface outfit. The incident laid largely forgotten for the past two years until one of Schafer's antagonists, Lexie Gruber, "felt compelled to revive" it, the paper reported.

The report by the Post led to Schafer losing her job this week: She "informed her employer, a government contractor, about the blackface incident and The Post’s forthcoming article," according to the Post, after which she was dismissed from her position. 

Schafer told the Post she has "spent many hours in therapy" discussing the incident. Another one of her confronters, Lyric Prince, has also "work[ed] through the events of the evening with a therapist," according to the paper.

Another partygoer, Washington art entrepreneur Philippa Hughes, expressed concern over the public nature of the scandal but ultimately argued that it was necessary. 

"When it becomes public, it will be too much of a punishment,”  she said, claiming that it was "unfair to go back and attack some clueless woman."

But, she said, "people do need to be held up as an example of the lines we’re going to draw about what’s acceptable behavior. Every single person at that party should have said something to her. There’s culpability all around."

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