All Articles Tagged "blackface"
I admit it: I’m one of the millions of stupid Americans who keep up with the Kardashians. The KJs (as I call them) are my favorite Internet distraction.
Judge me, if you must. I get it. That’s fine. (And, no, this isn’t a post intending to defend the K-clan’s relevance and influence.) I’m just being honest about the fact that I’m a fan of TV’s most infamous family.
So imagine my surprise when I Googled Kylie Jenner the other day and these words showed up: Blackface.
Now, you’ve probably heard about the whole Kylie-blackface thing already. And upon hearing about the Kylie-blackface thing or seeing the photos that caused the controversy, you may have a) been morally outraged in the name of all things utterly racist and artistically abhorrent, b) earnestly thought, Blackface? Huh? She looks like a gold-dusted alien to me… c) disgustedly rolled your eyes and thought, Here goes more stupid Kardashian sh*t… or d) blithely rolled your eyes and thought, Like I care.
Or, perhaps, you had an altogether different response. (In which case, do tell!)
As far as my response goes, I would say that I was option b. I earnestly thought, Blackface? Huh? She looks like a gold-dusted alien to me…
And this is where I get self-conscious.
By writing that I honestly didn’t get a blackface vibe from Jenner’s photos, I’m opening myself up to the accusation that I suffer from the same racial naïveté that made Jenner think publicizing those photos of herself with darker skin was okay in the first place. Basically, I’m afraid that you’ll call me ignorant.
In my worst case scenario way of thinking, you will think of me as the Ignorant Black Person. To you, I will be someone who doesn’t “know our history” or “respect our struggle.” It’ll be as if the founders of my alma mater, Spelman College, are turning over in their graves (and all my Spelman sisters are lining up to unfriend me on Facebook). To you, I’ll be the Ignorant Black Person, simply because my racism radar lacks a knee-jerk “oh hell no!” reaction.
While “ignorant” isn’t a word I’d use to describe myself, I dare not pretend to be a scholar on race or race issues. As for issuing an educated response to the Kylie-blackface thing, I’m not armed with a history professor’s arsenal of references to 19th century minstrel shows. I wish I were the academic/intellectual type who could be a talking head in the 24-hours news cycle and speak knowingly about the historical facts that pertain to conversations about race. Thing is, I’m not.
And I’ll be honest again by saying that sometimes the “that’s racist!” online brouhahas somewhat elude me.
Don’t get me wrong: I get it. I don’t often feel the same way, but I get it. And when I witness another black person taking a “that’s racist!” stance, I don’t mentally charge her with the alleged crime of pulling the race card (or being paranoid, groundlessly suspicious, having a chip on her shoulder or anything else condescending like that).
Rather, I think (or, in some circles, I may say aloud), “Really? You went there? Yo, I didn’t go there at all. Not. At. All.”
Afterwards I may wonder, Wait, am I a race betrayer? A double-dealer? An Uncle Tom (or Aunt Tomasina)? A gullible house negro?
I don’t seriously believe I’m any of those things. While I’m not inherently distrustful of white people and the things they do, I consider myself to be more than marginally circumspect when it comes to race matters. (So “more than marginally circumspect” makes me what? Moderately watchful? Relatively vigilant? I don’t know.)
My bottom line on race, however, is simple: I’m incredibly in love with black folks and being black. That may sound trite (and/or offensive, depending on who you are), but it’s truer than true. Yet I recognize that my saying “I’m in love with being black” is a privilege. That’s right: A privilege. Granted, it’s a minor privilege if you even agree that it’s a privilege at all. Still, it’s one the very few privileges of being a person of color.
Most folks of any color would be okay hearing an Indian person say, “I love being Indian” or a Japanese person say “I love being Japanese.” The “I love being ____” privilege also extends itself culturally and religiously, not just racially. I’d bet a Jewish person who is white could say, “I love being Jewish” and not receive much, if any, backlash.
But I pity the poor Jewish or non-Jewish white person who says, “I love being white.”
Think about it. Here’s a picture of the beautiful Kimberly Elise wearing an “I love being black” T-shirt. I see that picture and I think, Look at her and her lovely afro and her lovely black self! But let’s say that, I don’t know, Ellen Pompeo (the star of Grey’s Anatomy, a show that Kimberly Elise once guest-starred) wore an “I love being white” T-shirt. Please. I might not call “racist!” but I’d give her the “You should know better” side-eye (especially since Ellen Pompeo’s husband is black, so I suspect she really does know better).
Now, I’m not saying that white folks should skip around town sporting “I love being white” T-shirts. But I’m also not saying that sporting “I love being white” T-shirts is something that white folks should not do. Would it be stupid of them to do it? Sure. Would it be insensitive? Absolutely. Is there a double standard? Well, yeah. Is the double standard fair? Well, historically speaking, white folks’ version of racial pride hasn’t been about positive self-esteem as much as it has been about blatant supremacy. So, yeah, while there might be a double standard, I’d argue that it’s a reasonable one.
As a black person though, I know can rock my “I love being black”-ness openly and it won’t be as offensive to white folks as it would be to everyone else if a white person were to follow suit by expressing pride in their own race.
And yes, I understand that publicly affirming one’s blackness isn’t wholly acceptable and can still be met with a lot of criticism. Consider the Black Girls Rock! vs. all girls rock vs. #WhiteGirlsRock commotion. But I suspect that the criticism that racially self-affirming black folks would get from white folks is considerably less than the criticism that racially self-affirming white folks would get from black folks.
What I’m saying is this: There are nuances wherein black folks kind of have an advantage in some race matters. And whenever I’m considering who has the most advantage in any given situation, I can’t help but feel a little pity for the person who has the least.
Which means that sometimes I feel a little sorry for white people.
Generally speaking, I certainly feel more support and empathy for black folks than I do pity for white folks. I know that in an overall who’s-more-disadvantaged contest, we’d certainly win. But despite that, I occasionally feel a twinge of pity when a famous white person wanders into a racial minefield. When he or she gets slammed for being racist after making some extemporaneous remark or display on social media or TV, I’ve noticed myself extending him or her an unsaid “bless your heart.”
A couple days ago, I virtually extended a “bless your heart” to Kylie Jenner during her blackface incident, just as I virtually extended a “bless your heart” to Giuliana Rancic after she made that bad joke about Zendaya Coleman’s faux locs in February.
When I read about Rancic’s comments the day after the Oscars, I was convinced it was hippiness, not blackness, that she was lambasting. To me, her bad jokes were meant to conjure up an outmoded stereotype of the tie-dye wearing, Grateful Dead-loving flower child. Yes, I know that “meant to” is a slippery slope, and that the “she didn’t mean to offend anyone” defense is spurious reasoning. Whether a person from one racial group knowingly intends for their words or actions to harm or offend a person from another racial group isn’t the point, as much as the point is whether that person’s words or actions actually do offend. But I believe that black women and dreadlocks aren’t inextricably linked to the same degree that, say, afros and black women are. If you ask me, Zendaya’s thoughtful Instagram response to Rancic could have just as easily mentioned non-black women who’ve worn dreadlock styles (i.e., Ani Difranco, Jennifer Aniston, Shakira or Lady Gaga).
Now, I concede that Kylie Jenner’s Instagram reply to the uproar was considerably less thoughtful and lacking in diplomacy than Zendaya’s. In response to blackface accusations, Jenner basically told her Instagram followers to just “calm down,” which is a fairly rude response, considering the very prevalent belief that when people surmise racism in a matter they’re being irrational or un-calm. Though, surely, a person’s suspicions of racism can be quite calm, rational, composed–and, more often than not, on the mark.
Just the same, I agreed with Jenner’s sentiment that her pictures were not distasteful and not the stuff of Amos ‘n’ Andy (or even the stuff of Julianne Hough, for whom I did not feel one bit of “bless your heart” pity during her blackface incident back in 2013).
And I don’t think I’m the only black woman who wasn’t offended. Even my friend Sharmane, who’s as racially conscious as they come, said she didn’t think twice about Jenner’s photos. For her, they only brought to mind the music videos for Salt-N-Pepa’s “None of Your Business” and the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Give it Away.”
All I’m saying is this: Maybe my radar is off, but I haven’t been getting offended by some of these so-called racist events as of late. Or maybe I’m the 21st-century version of the house negro who chooses to empathize with the master. Or maybe I’m…*gasp*…ignorant.
Personally, I don’t think any of the above is true about me. (And, you know, feel free to disagree.)
But if I were a hashtag person (which I’m not because I forget that “hashtag” is even a thing people say and end up saying “pound sign” instead), I might initiate #RaceCardEtiquette, #RaceCardRules or #RacismRadar to gauge where other people stand on the topic of feeling, managing or expressing racial outrage.
So tell me: Were you offended by Kylie Jenner’s photos? Could you care less? Where do you typically fall on the public-outcries-over-racism scale when gaffes like this happen?
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.
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).
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
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.
White ELLE France Beauty Editor Causes A Stir For Trying To Dress Like Solange Knowles–Brown Skin And All
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?
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.
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’
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.
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?