Only one of these gentlemen is the real Mr T.
Staff at a south coast firm have been prescribed extra diversity and inclusion training after a partner was found to have blacked up as Mr T.
Kevin Horn, a private client specialist at Warner Goodman, apologised “unreservedly” when it emerged he dressed up as B. A. Baracus, the milk-loving, plane-hating A-Team character, for a work event in 2016.
Horn was sufficiently unaware of the prevailing cultural headwinds that he got himself snapped as B. A., then posted the photo on his Facebook account and, a source told RollOnFriday, distributed it round the office.
Andy Munden, Managing Partner of Warner Goodman, told RollOnFriday, "Kevin Horn apologises unreservedly for his actions and deeply regrets any offence he may have caused".
"Kevin was attending an 80s themed fancy dress party in 2016 and he accepts his behaviour was an error of judgement."
Munden said the incident "does not in any way reflect the culture of Warner Goodman LLP where diversity and inclusion are cornerstones of our core values".
He said the firm would not take any disciplinary action, but there would be "an additional programme of diversity and inclusion education for each and every one of our staff members".
Punishing everyone with extra D&I training because a partner blacked up in 2016 may sound like unjust overkill, but Warner Goodman said it would not be commenting further, so ROF was unable to seek a reprieve for the innocent.
"We have also self-reported the incident to the SRA", said Munden.
Blacking up is generally considered offensive in the West. Canadian PM Justin Trudeau apologised profusely in 2019 when it emerged that he had worn what he described as "racist" makeup to a costume party in 2001, when he was 29.
In 2020 comedians Matt Lucas and David Walliams said sorry for having "played characters of different races" in their TV series Little Britain and Come Fly With Me. The latter show, which aired in 2011 but is no longer available, saw Lucas donning a fat suit to depict a lazy Jamaican coffee shop worker called Precious Little.
However, blackface continues to be regarded as uncontroversial in other parts of the world. When it emerged earlier this year that Stephenson Harwood's former Hong Kong Managing Partner blacked up as athlete Eliud Kipchoge for an office party in 2020, he told RollOnFriday, "Until recently, I was not aware of the stigma in the west with this".
One insider indicated it would not matter if Horn's playful homage to Mr T was born of an innocent affection for the cultural icon, telling ROF, "I am disgusted".
ROF has asked Mr. T, who charges between $100,000-$200,000 for speaking engagements, if he wouldn’t mind running the firm's diversity training so that staff have sonething to look forward to.