In recent history, Julianne Hough of Dancing with the Stars fame became caught up in a sort of “scandal of her own” sans any Olivia Pope’s or Huck’s to save her. She recently ventured to a Hollywood Halloween Party dressed up as Crazy Eyes from Orange Is The New Black (one of my favorite shows on Netflix). The problem came in when she came “in Blackface” to represent her character. She thought it was appropriate. Many others did not. After a healthy apology, we have this situation to ponder about.

Key mistake, baby. Key mistake.

Key mistake, baby. Key mistake.

Then again, there are many other people that didn’t find any issue with it. For one, many noted that she was more “bronze” than anything. Others knew that she didn’t mean anything by it. She was just trying to make her character more “accurate” for her costume. And all of this I truly understand.

Still, I would be remiss if I didn’t note the issues that exist about this situation. There are both Black and White people that could care less. And you know what? I respect their opinions. On the other hand, I find wearing Blackface to be highly problematic in today’s society that desperately wants to claim to be “post racial” when the racism still pisses on our collective lawns.

Chocolate covered lie? There is no big deal with “wearing Blackface”.

The Understanding

I get that people do not see any issue with the wearing of Black face. At some point, it isn’t going to offend some Black people because they either have no true connection to the issue or they simply don’t care. Plenty of white people are going to note that Hough didn’t even have “black skin” of any kind. I understand that a lot of the inner racial issues that is presented with this costume representation of African Americans will not string up any feelings. I fully get it.

Cover of "White Chicks (Unrated and Uncut...

Deplorable. But that is my opinion.

Also, there has been instances in which people have either wore the make up in a movie (Bamboozled) or even dressed up as Caucasians in the same type of way (White Chicks).

Oh, and there will always be claims of “freedom of speech”.

The Misunderstanding

English: Photo portrait of Vaudeville star Ber...

English: Photo portrait of Vaudeville star Bert Williams in blackface with cigarette; cropped from original (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What many of us have to take into account is the historical representation of this condition. Originating in the White people’s characterizations of plantation slaves and free blacks during the era of minstrel shows (1830-1890), Blackface caricatures took a firm hold on the American imagination [1]. Many people expected any person with dark skin to conform to one or more of the stereotypes presented in these “shows”. Whether it was the nappy-headed pick-a-ninny, the jezebel, the coon, or the ever capitalistic maligned Mammy (Aunt Jemima) or Uncle Tom (Uncle Ben), these stereotypes play into our society either directly or hidden within the fabric of our collective consciences [2]. In short, working to ignore the past only has us repeating it.

Another issue is that, at the end of the day, Blackface is racist as all hell. Personally, I am not even trying to understand how “non-racist” people are doing this for the sake of looking the part. If you want to look the part, then wear the outfit that goes along with it. I should not actually have to explain how this is problematic when this nation is built off the appropriation of Black effort and exploitation of Black humanity. Wearing Blackface is a historically significant reminder that Black people only served as America’s chattel for so many years.

"Darky" iconography frequently adorn...

“Darky” iconography frequently adorned the covers of sheet music from the 1870s through the 1940s, but virtually disappeared by the 1950s. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And say if a Black person wanted to don “white face” (White Girls movie reference), then would it be the same thing? Absolutely not. Yes, white people would have a right to be offended. However, you all would be missing some key elements to even compare to Blackface (as explained by racismschool):

1.)    Unable to dehumanize because the power holders lose nothing (Dignity, power, ect).

2.)    At most, shows how white people react to things like brown people being anywhere near them but also shows their big reactions to small things while simultaneously telling brown people to “Get over” HUGE things like racism.

3.)    Has been done to show PRIVILEGE not to show that they are “Less than.” Think about the EXACT “Stereotypes” being placed on white people while actors have done white face.

4.)    Has no historical relevance

5.)    If a white person’s feelings were hurt by white face, they wake up the next day and no one will judge THEM by what they saw. Black people were (and still are) BELIEVED to be these caricatures. [3]

Oh, and let us be reminded: “freedom of speech” comes with “freedom of response”. So, act accordingly.

Therefore, let us understand that Blackface is NOT the way to go. If you want to get dressed up for Halloween, then do that. However, leave all the black-brown-and-whatever make up off of your face. It is not only racially insensitive but it is historically deplorable. So please miss me with the madness: Blackface would look dumb on any race.

‘Nuff Said and ‘Nuff Respect!!!

Enhanced by Zemanta