All Articles Tagged "blackface"

Models Wear Glittery Blackface During Italian Fashion Show

February 28th, 2015 - By Courtney Whitaker
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Here we go AGAIN.

During Milan’s Fashion week, an Italian fashion designer, Claudio Cutugno debuted his new clothing line. However, the clothes were not the topic of conversation. The white models in the fashion show had their faces covered in black paint with glitter atop.

The all-black themed fashion show was inspired by an artist Emilio Isgro. Isgro, who frequently uses bumble bees in his artwork, claims the glitter is supposed to be bees swarming on the faces of the models.

After receiving tons of backlash, Cutugno spoke to E! News.

“I think it is a pleasure to have the chance to answer the criticism about the make up I decided to use,” he said. “Anyway just to be clear: the collection was inspired by Emilio Isgrò artworks. He was literally erasing parts of the text of some books, he was putting some black ink on top on some words he wanted to erase so to let some words come out from the text and be underlined. As well as this, in ancient Greek, the meaning of the words that were underlined was related to the tradition of wearing black veils around the heads when women needed to say goodbye to their husbands. This also today is a tradition which in Sicily is used when women go to burials. So the black make up we decided to use was actually a translation of the black veil. I chose not to use the real veil because I did not want to cover the whole faces of the models.

“I am extremely sorry if many people thought this make up would result offensive and also that I am racist, but that was not my intent. I am extremely respectful of the Afro American culture and extremely sorry for each type episode of racism.”

How many of you believe this? Is this just another example of the racial injustices that take place in our day and age? Sigh, when will people learn to LEAVE BLACKFACE ALONE?!?

Childhood Ruined: 15 Classic Kids’ Shows You Didn’t Realize Were Racist

October 15th, 2014 - By Meg Butler
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Getting ready to pop in one of your favorite children’s classics for a nostalgic re-watch? Before you push that VHS tape in, check out our list of beloved childhood shows you didn’t realize were racist because nothing ruins a childhood movie like realizing your favorite character was in Blackface all along.

Kids' Shows You Didn't Realize Were Racist

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Remember this guy from Annie? First of all, his name is “Punjab” which isn’t a name so much as the state in India he’s supposed to be from. It’s like having Daddy Warbucks call you “African” instead of using your real name.

Only, the character can’t be from Punjab at all, because he’s played by black actor and classically trained dancer Geoffrey Holder (RIP).

White Man Wears Blackface In Order To Rob Bank, And He’s Not The First To Do It…

July 10th, 2014 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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In case you missed it, police are still on the search for an Iowa man who robbed a bank in Cedar Rapids last month. He wasn’t wearing a mask, or a scarf to cover his nose and mouth. He was wearing blackface.

According to the CBS affiliate in Iowa, a bank in Cedar Rapids was robbed by a man who walked in wearing makeup to make himself appear darker. It didn’t just cover his face, but his entire neck and ears too. This particular bank was hit two weeks in a row by robbers, and police are trying to find a way to quell the number of  robberies that have hit the area. There have been eight at banks across Cedar Rapids since the year started, reportedly more than the last three years combined.

This was the central focus of the story for those news outlets in Iowa who covered it, and that makes since, yet we can’t help but be irritated by the whole blackface aspect. But then again, this isn’t the first time something like this has happened.

In 2010, Conrad Zdzierak committed six robberies in Ohio while wearing a silicone mask that was constructed to look like a black man (for real, it was scary). The mask behaved as real flesh and muscle. The thing was so convincing that police actually arrested a man they thought looked similar to the mask for one of Zdzierak’s crimes. 

And if that wasn’t enough, last month we told you about the babysitter who tried to accuse a black neighbor (married man with a family) of robbing her employers of money and game systems. But the employers’ 4-year-old daughter spoke up to tell police that the man blamed “wasn’t the right skin color.” The babysitter wound up admitting that the robbers were actually her boyfriend and a friend. The babysitter, her beau, and his friend, were all arrested and could face robbery, burglary and perjury charges.

Why are people so low-down? Get more details about this particular crime below.

Vogue Italia In Trouble For Fashion Spread Using “Blackface” As White Model Poses In African Headdresses And Wraps

March 10th, 2014 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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Vogue Italia/Visuelle

Vogue Italia/Visuelle

At this point, someone’s just playing crazy at these fashion magazines.

In the new issue of Vogue Italia, in a spread called Abrecadabra, model Saskia de Brauw poses in African-inspired headdresses and wraps with her face painted to make her dark. As pointed out by the Huffington Post, when de Brauw is not wearing brown face in the spread by photog great Steven Meisel, she’s “playing” with animals, including a fake lion, wildebeests and more while wearing gele-inspired looks and African-inspired print designer threads. Her face paint, clearly supposed to be a play on the facial markings and paintings that different ethnic groups around the continent wear also stuck out to me.

The constant desire to depict African culture in fashion spreads is not a bad thing at all, but when are folks actually going to pick up the phone and call African/African-American models for these things? And at the same time, do these spreads have to be so caricature-driven? You can show love to the Ankara/wax dutch prints that are stamped all over clothing now and show love to the continent at the same time without having homegirl rolling around with animals. Just saying. Too many photoshoot spreads go downhill fast when they’re so hellbent on trying to portray only an extreme or stereotype. I wouldn’t say I’m offended (which was the question posed by the Huffington Post), but I was definitely left feeling a bit uncomfortable by the shoot. How about you? Check out more of the images and share your thoughts.

Vogue Italia/Visuelle

Vogue Italia/Visuelle

Vogue Italia/Visuelle

Vogue Italia/Visuelle

Vogue Italia/Visuelle

Vogue Italia/Visuelle

Vogue Italia/Visuelle

Vogue Italia/Visuelle





White ELLE France Beauty Editor Causes A Stir For Trying To Dress Like Solange Knowles–Brown Skin And All

November 26th, 2013 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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Solange Jeanne Deroo

Another day, another opportunity for someone to pretend they didn’t realize that painting their skin brown to appear black was a no-no.

Jeanne Deroo, a beauty editor for ELLE France caused quite a stir this week when she posted a picture of herself with an afro wig and body paint on her Instagram. She dressed up as Solange Knowles of all people to attend an “icons” party, saying that Solo is someone she is a big fan of and sees as an “idol.” But of course, the coloring of her skin overshadowed the fact that she was trying to show her appreciation for the singer. The FashionBombDaily caught the image and shared it on their site last night, and in no time flat, folks had a lot to say not only on that site, but many others. Of course, there were those who saw nothing wrong with Deroo’s portrayal of Solange, saying “imitation is the highest form of flattery,” but there were quite a few others who said that if you still hadn’t received the memo, blackface is wrong, wrong, wrong:

“Whether or not one agrees that it’s an insult or not, why do they continue the trend? Why the thirsty need to spark controversy?”

“I would say yes it would be nice that they would want to be us, but then help in the plight to end the racism against black women too.”

“With all the bad press the sudden infatuation of caucasians longing to bring back the black face days, it was not only insensitive of her to do but a blatant ” F**k you, I do because I can ” Because something is constantly done doesn’t mean that it is ever okay; this ‘ ish just IS NOT OKAY.”

“Blackface is not ok. It is offensive because of its historical background. It is awfully reminiscent of minstrel shows that portray black people as overtly simple, exotic creatures of vice and folly. It isn’t funny. It never is funny.”

“Take a note. It is never a good idea to “imitate another races skin tone”. Ever.”

Since the picture received a negative response (she pulled it down from her Instagram soon after posting), Deroo posted an apology explaining why she painted her face the way she did and what she’s realized since.

I realise how much the fact of painting oneself brown is an offensive act. I didn’t realise the seriousness of my action when I went to a private party last Saturday evening, which the theme was “Icons”, and where I chose to embody Solange Knowles, of whom I am a fan. During this private party, I posted a picture of myself on my Instagram without intention of hurting anyone. I deeply regret and would like to present all my apologies. I would also like to indicate that this picture published in a private context does not involve in any way the french ELLE magazine I work for, and I am sorry for the prejudice it has caused.

Deroo definitely seems apologetic, and her intentions weren’t ugly, but to show love to Solange. However, everyone, all around the world at that, should know by now that you can show your appreciation for someone, even in your attempts to dress like them, without painting your skin. Especially such a muddy brown that doesn’t even look natural.

But what do you think? 


Another Year, Another Racist Halloween Costume: Men Dress As Zimmerman & Trayvon Martin

October 28th, 2013 - By Veronica Wells
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racist halloween costume

It’s that time of year ladies and gentlemen. I believe you know what I’m referring to, the time when white folks around the country, knowingly or unknowingly display their ignorance or all out blatant racism as they don blackface all in the spirit of executing a great Halloween costume.

Which is what you see in the picture above. Though this one is a little different. Typically, the wearers of blackface claim to have no idea that in their quest to pull off an excellent costume, they’re successfully offending an entire group of people. But in the picture of above these three clearly know what they’re doing and are pretty proud of it.

The man dressed as Trayvon Martin is 25 year old William Filene and “George Zimmerman” is 22 year old Greg Cimeno. Greg Cimeno got into a couple of exchanges on Facebook, arguing that the costume wasn’t racist.

Caitlin Cimeno, the woman in the middle, initially posted the picture on her public (at the time) Instagram profile. She captioned  the original photo as “Just for fun :) but hey, follow me!” as if the death of an unarmed, black child was pure hilarity to her. But according to Caitlin’s profile, she takes her racism very seriously. In another picture on her Instagram, she posted a picture of a little girl wearing a “Black Girls Rock” shirt and included this commentary.

“This Is Africa!” Australian Woman Has African-Themed Birthday Party With Blackface And Dashikis

October 22nd, 2013 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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Most of us remember our 21st birthdays — the cake, the outfit, the friends who helped us enter the prime of our 20s. Whether you had an intimate dinner or a live party that left you wearing sunglasses while washing Advil down with water, we are sure you did not celebrate like this 21-year-old Australian woman.

Buzzfeed shared the story of the woman who invited her friends to celebrate her milestone bday with her in “Africa.” For her  African-themed celebration, guests came dressed in blackface, dashikis, turbans, leopard prints and animal costumes. If that wasn’t enough, someone thought it would be intelligent to dress as K-K-K members and others as Native Americans.  Like most of us, she uploaded pictures of her party to social media, titling the album, “This is Africa…my 21st :),” but after her pictures went viral and people started reacting negatively, she released a statement vowing she meant no harm or offense with her theme party. Her intention, she claims, was to celebrate another “country’s culture,” though the last time we checked Africa is a continent and interestingly enough she would like to teach English in Africa. A Tumblr user posted her response for her, which read:

“Okay don’t even know how to use tumblr but wanted to clarify this. It was my ‘African themed’ party and it was honestly made that theme because I have always wanted to go to Africa (to teach english) but haven’t made it there yet. In no way was this party intended to hurt anyones feelings or upset anyone at all. In fact as you can tell from the photos I dressed up as cleopatra, whilst MAJORITY of my guests came as animals, that can be found in africa or wore traditional african clothes or even dressed up as famous people who come from africa. If anything this was to celebrate the amazing country and people. However, some guest did decide to paint themselves, although this was in no way my intention or encouraged in the slightest. I understand that this has offended some people and I have no idea how these photos have even been seen, they were simply put on facebook for my guests to see the photos of themselves. I am 100% sure that parties would be held that would be ‘Australian themed’ or American themed or even countries of the world, and in that instance I don’t believe anyone would be offended. People wear oktoberfest cotumes to parties and no one cracks it that they are not German? So what I am saying is I do understand the people who have painted themselves have offended people, although none of them intended that…. but how can people be annoyed that the majority of the people at the party were celebrating another countries culture. Also one of my friends who is Mauritian painted himself white, but that photos didn’t make it to this page along with the MAJORITY of people who were amazingly detailed costumes that no one could take offense to!! I am sure that not one person at my party felt upset that said guest painted himself white as it was not meant in that way at all. Also, I have NEVER been asked to take these photos down, however if I had of course I would have done so, as I had no idea that anyone other than friends and guests could see these photos, and to be honest I am not a racist person at all so I didn’t think anyone could possibly take it that way. I intend to spend 2 months teaching english in cambodia in January, and cant wait to do the same in Africa. If you will still have me. To reiterate, I was cleopatra and did not encourage my guest to wear anything racist simply to come as something African Inspired, much like if you went to an australia day party (Which I am 100% sure people of all races and cultures do every year!!!) Again I am sorry for those I have offended and the photos have now been removed now that I have eventually been made aware people were upset. For those who know me at all you would know the last thing in the world I would want to do would be to offend people.”

Although her response may have been written with good intentions, it does not excuse her ignorance. By synonymously stating Africa is a country while explaining her desire to travel to the continent, this young woman’s lack of knowledge becomes blatantly apparent. Furthermore, racially charged theme parties far too often revolve around enjoying “becoming” caricatures of cultures rather than celebrating certain ethnic groups. As you can see from the pics on the next page, this party was very much the former.

Click the next page to see more pictures from this woman’s 21st birthday party. Thoughts?

Zoe Saldana Isn’t Allowing Your Opinions About The Nina Simone Biopic To Deter Her, Says She’s Doing It For Her ‘People’

February 27th, 2013 - By Jazmine Denise Rogers
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Source: WENN

Source: WENN

Actress Zoe Saldana has been forced to bear the brunt of much criticism since it was announced that she was the actress selected to play iconic singer Nina Simone  in the long-awaited motion picture about her life. Fans and celebrities alike have publicly voiced their disapproval of Zoe assuming the role of the singer, especially when photos of the actress on the movie set, all dressed up (and painted up) in her Nina costume surfaced.

“So today I saw the images of Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone… and I think they are ridiculous! Yes there should be a movie made, and YES they should have chosen someone who LOOKS like Nina Simone, ESPECIALLY since her RACE played such a PIVOTAL role in WHO, WHAT and WHY, she was. THAT ASIDE for a second, this just looks WEIRD, it looks like a person in Black(er) face with a fake nose … REALLY?!!!! DOES NOT THE ONE NINA SIMONE’S LEGACY DESERVE BETTER THAN THIS?” singer India Arie expressed.

While public frustration can certainly be understood, Zoe has been hired to play the role of Nina Simone and she still has a job to do, whether we like it or not. Hip Hollywood recently caught up with the actress to discuss the intense level of criticism that she has received for her role in the biopic. Here’s what she had to say:

“The reality is what keeps me focused and what kept me from I guess getting stressed or being hurt by the comments is that I’m doing it for my sisters. I’m doing it for my brothers. I don’t care who tells me that I am not this and I am not that. I know who I am and I know what Nina Simone means to me. So that is my truth and that set me free. You know, I can only rely on that and maintain as much humility as possible so that when I have to face the world and I have to then give the movie to the world to see and share it with them, that if it comes back in a negative fashion or positive, I’m gonna keep my chin up because that’s who I am and that’s who I’ll be and Nina was like that too. So I did it all out of love, out of love for Nina, out of love for my people and who I am and my pride of being Black woman and a Latina woman and an American woman and that’s my truth.”

What are your thoughts on Zoe’s response? Does she make valid points or did she totally miss the reason why people are upset?

You can check out a clip of Zoe’s interview on the next page.

Blackface In 2013? White Model Poses In Editorial Spread Titled, “African Queen”

February 25th, 2013 - By Jazmine Denise Rogers
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Source: Numero

If you thought the days of Blackface were over, you are sadly mistaken. International fashion magazine, Numéro recently printed a two-page editorial entitled, “African Queen”, in which 16-year-old Caucasian model, Ondria Hardrin is depicted wearing heavy bronzer, as if the publication was attempting to pass her off as Black and many are wondering why? Why didn’t Numéro just hire a Black model?

Jezebel revealed that the same agency that represents Hardrin also represents several Black models. It’s unfortunate when Black models aren’t even considered for jobs that common sense would make most assume are for them.

“why hire a black model when you could just paint a white one!” blog Foudre said of the ridiculous spread.’

Now we won’t play ignorant, we know that there are White people living in Africa as well, but according to the Huffington Post, Ondria is from North Carolina and judging by the heavy amount of bronzer that she is wearing in the spread, it seems quite clear that the glossy was attempting to have her to appear “darker” than what she actually is.

I suppose this only serves as a reflection of the scarce number of Black models who are employed by the fashion industry. Jezebel recently reported that this past New York Fashion Week, 82.7% of the participating models were White, while only 6% were Black.

No one can say whether or not Numéro meant any harm by the model that they selected for the spread, but it appears to be the message that it sends to Black models and the world in general that people are finding to be offensive.

What are your thoughts on this?

Shantrelle P. Lewis Talks Blackface In The Netherlands & Her Passion For Curating

February 21st, 2013 - By Charing Ball
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Shantrelle P. Lewis, New York-based curator and scholar, has been all over the globe – Haiti, Brasil, Nigeria, Ghana, Egypt, Cuba, Jamaica, Sweden, Paris, and elsewhere black folks can be found – researching, documenting and presenting the African Diaspora through exhibits like, Dandy Lion: Articulating a Re(de)fined Black Masculine Identity and Life After Death: A Multi-Media Analysis of the Persona That Was/Is Fela Anikulapo Kuti.

Her new project, Black Pete, Zwarte Piet: The Documentary will send Lewis back to the Netherlands in an effort to explore the tenuous relationship between a Dutch holiday fable and the local black community. Taking time out from fundraising, Lewis talked with MadameNoire about the film; the passion behind the project; and the fascinating story about how a former pre-med student and high school teacher found her true calling as a keeper of the culture:

First tell us about Black Pete, Zwarte Piet: The Documentary? More specifically, for those not aware, who is Zwarte Piet?


“Black Pete, Zwarte Piet: The Documentary” is a film about the Dutch celebration of Sinterklaas and his helper – Zwarte Piet (Black Pete). St. Nicholas as a figure, is harmless and famous around the world right? Well the narrative attached to the celebrations of Sinterklaas in the Netherlands includes another element that is virtually unknown outside of the Netherlands. During holiday celebrations there, white people dress up in blackface in their roles as the Zwarte Piet character. This tradition has been practiced and widely celebrated throughout the country for many years. However, when larger numbers of Black people started to migrate to the Netherlands from Suriname and former Dutch colonies in the mid/late-20th century, of course, some people were not happy about this tradition.

Over the years, various individuals and groups have resisted the celebration while many others have assimilated into mainstream culture and adopted the celebration themselves. It has been within more recent years that more visible protests have been formed against the practice and people have increasingly in larger numbers began speaking out and publicly protesting the blackface character, who supposedly received his dark color from falling down a chimney. But if that is indeed the case, why is that he has “nappy” or “curly” hair (e.g. afro wig), exaggerated red lips and gold hoop earrings that are synonymous with the same types of earrings worn historically by people of African descent? Also, why is his entire face black? And why aren’t his clothes covered with “soot” as well?

This documentary seeks to explore several subjects – the history of Zwarte Piet’s blackface, activists and Dutch citizens who believe that the performance and imagery associated with Zwarte Piet are racist, and individuals in the Netherlands who feel that the tradition is harmless and shouldn’t be changed. Additionally, we seek to locate Zwarte Piet in a larger context of the race, racism and (mis)representation of Black people in the Netherlands.


What compelled you to want to explore such a racially-charged and culturally sensitive topic through film?


As a curator, I’ve always been attracted to the medium of film. While I use the exhibitions that I curate to explore subject matter that isn’t necessarily for the faint of heart, I’ve never been too afraid to approach sensitive subject matter. For example, my exhibition Sex Crimes Against Black Girls, was probably the most emotional and professionally challenging experience I’ve had thus far in my career. So when it came to the subject of Zwarte Piet, I wasn’t necessarily interested in curating an exhibition – there have been several exhibitions about the subject already. My primary goal for attempting to tackle the subject of Zwarte Piet through film comes from a desire to educate masses of people, not just in the U.S., but internationally, about what some may deem as an international issue of concern. 

Unlike the accessibility of other languages like Spanish, French and English, Dutch is a localized language, one that isn’t spoken by many people outside of its borders and its former colonies. Thus, much about Dutch history and contemporary politics are virtually unknown by the rest of the world. My goal as a researcher is to explore a topic of interest and concern to me since I’m currently heavily involved in research about the Dutch Caribbean, but through a medium that provides greater access and awareness. It also concerns me because it affects my colleagues and friends – people that I’ve grown close to during my experiences in NL. I could have curated an exhibition but honestly, how many people would have had the opportunity to engage the subject matter? The work that I do as a curator and researcher, the manner in which I present the topics that I’m de-constructing and exploring, is about accessibility. I felt that Zwarte Piet is a topic that has already experienced enough isolation and I want to test my ability as an educator to assist in placing it on a larger platform for critical discourse.