Blackface wasn’t the only unfortunate decision Shelbi Elliott-Heenan made this Halloween, though. The wife and mother also shared a picture of herself on Facebook posing in the offensive costume alongside a man, also in blackface, who’s dressed as the singer’s husband, Jay-Z. Initially unidentified, it is now believed the man is Elliott-Heenan’s husband, Jasmond Heenan, who reportedly works for Costco Wholesale.
In the shot, which has now gone viral on social media, Elliott-Heenan is grinning proudly with her arm draped around her partner’s shoulder. The nurse’s Facebook profile has been deactivated since the scandal broke, and her husband doesn’t seem to have a social media presence either.
Saint Luke’s Health System, the hospital where Elliott-Heenan was employed at the time of the incident, condemned the costume and gave the nurse a pink slip, releasing the following statement on Monday:
“While it is against Saint Luke’s policy to comment on specific personnel matters, we can confirm that this individual is no longer a Saint Luke’s employee. Saint Luke’s is deeply committed to our culture of diversity and inclusion. It is fundamental to who we are as an organization and we vigorously protect it on behalf of all our patients and employees and expect those who represent us to do the same.”
The hospital’s action comes in the wake of a more high-profile firing — that of Megyn Kelly, whose show Megyn Kelly Today was canceled recently amid comments made by the host that defended blackface as “OK just as long as you were dressing as a character.” Kelly went on to apologize on-air for the comments, saying she was “listening carefully to other points of view” and concluded that “the history of blackface in our culture is abhorrent; the wounds too deep.”
Some social media users continued to defend blackface in light of the Elliott-Heenan incident, with some commenting, “OK let’s quit assuming that it is racist. Freedom of speech is her 1st amendment right,” and “She wasn’t being racist she was dressed in costume so what? That’s absolutely rediculous [sic]” on the Facebook account of news site Circa.
In 2014, the website Vox published a thorough explanation for those confused about why blackface is considered offensive, explaining a long and demoralizing history in which blackface was used primarily in minstrel shows. “Taking place against the backdrop of a society that systematically mistreated and dehumanized black people, they were mocking portrayals that reinforced the idea that African-Americans were inferior in every way,” the article states.
Yahoo Lifestyle was not able to locate Elliott-Heenan for comment but has reached out to both Heenan and to Costco Wholesale about the incident and will update this story when we hear back.
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