Cuyahoga County Board of Health responds to commissioner appearing in blackface

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PARMA, Ohio (WJW)– The Cuyahoga County Board of Health released a statement on Tuesday after information surfaced that health commissioner Terry Allan appeared in blackface makeup years ago.

Allan, who issued his own letter later in the day, admitted he wore blackface while attending a Halloween party about 30 years.

Board members said Allan is capable of continuing to lead the agency during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, in a letter on Tuesday. They cited his work related to infant mortality, lead poisoning prevention and COVID-19.

“This 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,” board members of the Cuyahoga County Board of Health said. “The concept of cultural appropriation, while new to many people over the past several years, has existed for centuries and is a tool used to demean and diminish the experiences of those affected.”

“In terms of Commissioner Allan’s involvement, we fully appreciate how the actions of a young person can be inappropriate and regrettable. We also understand that through education and experience, a person can change for the better.”

The board also noted the first African-American and Asian board members joined during Allan’s tenure.

“Confronting youthful mistakes and transgressions from our past often causes us embarrassment, regret and pain. I am incredibly embarrassed about what I have done. I apologize for my ignorance and immaturity and ask for forgiveness,” Allan said.

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