American National Bank & Trust responds to ‘Blackface’ photo

Local News

WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Nearly a month after it happened, American National Bank & Trust is addressing concerns over a photo of an employee appearing in blackface during a Halloween event.

It happened Friday October 30th during the Midwestern Parkway branch’s annual Halloween parade. Several bank employees got together and performed a skit from the 1992 comedy ‘Sister Act’, where one of them decided to portray Whoopi Goldberg’s character by painting her face brown and wearing a wig. The skit was live streamed to other branches around North Texas and this photo was posted to facebook by one of the employees, with a comment that read:

“No offense to anybody, we just had a fun time celebrating dress up season. It’s time to love everybody and embrace our differences instead of criticizing our every move and judging our actions. Be kind and have fun!” That post has since been taken down.

A coworker of the woman in question, who sent us the photos and who wishes to remain anonymous, says the incident wasn’t addressed until later the following week through an email. They say ‘racial sensitivity’ training was implemented by having employees watching several videos, including a clip of former tv show host, Megyn Kelly address comments she made about blackface on her morning show two years ago.

“The meeting maybe lasted 30 minutes, and I witnessed first hand several of the people who were supposed to be in that meeting coming off the elevator from the boardroom where they had it, laughing,” says the anonymous bank employee. “It hurt to see them all smiling, even though only one person had it on, the rest of them were smiling in the photo and it hurt to see that, and very few have apologized, a few of them have, but only so far as to say that no one should really be offended because it wasn’t really blackface, it was ‘tan face’.”

While we can’t say who the woman in the photo is, we do know this woman has been with the company for a long time and has seniority. She is also still employed at the bank.

“After seeing the photo I really expected something would be done, that there would be swift action taken,” says Anonymous. “I can understand if people want to treat this more as a learning situation and not just fire people for it, but still there are steps usually taken, there’s an email sent out addressing the situation and there’s usually repercussions, people are disciplined, to my knowledge no one not a single person has been written up for this situation. I mean it’s 2020, even if people don’t understand why blackface is unacceptable and it’s hurtful and offensive, I think we all by this point should know that you just don’t do it and especially not at work.”

We asked to speak with American National’s HR Director, Roy Olson in person about what happened, instead he sent us this statement saying:

“Our goal is to create a work environment that provides civility, respect and empathy for all employees. American national bank & trust management continues to take the incident in question extremely seriously. Since this is a personnel matter, it would not be fair or appropriate to discuss further.”

Olson did not say if the employee who portrayed Whoopi faced any disciplinary action or not.

We also reached out to the woman in blackface and a nun who was in the photo with her to get their side of the story; they did not respond.

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