Let’s Talk About Blackface

Black Esquire

And Yes, We Still Need to Talk About Blackface

I know I am a day late, but Happy Halloween! It’s that time of year again where children and adults alike indulge in the opportunity to dress up and pretend to be something or someone other than themselves. The keyword here is “pretend.” Halloween is a time to have fun and eat candy. It is certainly NOT the time to dress up in blackface. Every year there seems to be another news breaking story about someone wearing blackface. So let’s talk about blackface and why it’s NOT okay.

The History of Blackface

Blackface, regardless of why it is being done, is offensive. Blackface has a long history. Actors in the late nineteenth century routinely dressed up in blackface for theatrical minstrel shows. Blackface was worn to portray black slaves and characters that were considered uneducated. Not to mention the exaggerated mannerisms and caricatures, especially from the Jim Crow Era that were discriminatory. Although the minstrel shows have not taken place for many years, these images and videos can be found online and have even aired on television as recently as 1978. So spread the word. Blackface is offensive.

Blackface in 2018

It seems that many people who have fallen prey to the blackface faux pas seem to simply not know it is offensive. How? It is 2018. At some point being “ignorant” cannot be an excuse. Like the Iowa teacher, Megan Luloff, who was “completely unaware” of what blackface was when she chose to dress up this Halloween as a character from Napoleon Dynamite. And speaking of Megan, Megyn Kelly asked on her show, “But what is racist? . . . “Back when I was a kid that was OK, as long as you were dressing up as, like, a character.” No Megyn, blackface was NEVER okay.

How Do We Prevent Blackface From Happening Again?

There will certainly be cases where people choose to dress in blackface to be offensive. Those people most likely cannot be helped. For everyone else, spread the word. Education about blackface seems to be key. Dressing up as Kanye Westor former President Obama as a white person is fine, but you do not have to change the color of your skin to do it. It is up to us as a society to learn about other cultures and stop these things from happening. Hopefully next year we can do better.

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