Ahem, attention to everyone who is of African American descent. It’s time to stop complaining about the use of black face. I mean what harm does it do anyway? Is it really that offensive? Out of all of the things that we can complain about ya’ll are going to keep this one? It’s just a little makeup. It’s really not all that racist. So can we all just agree that we have more pressing things attend to like police brutality, systematic racism, and the black incarnation rate etc.?
Now before you start cursing me out and taking my black card let me stop playing with you guys. No this PSA is not for my melanin gifted people, instead it’s for white people who look for ways to explain their reasoning for wearing blackface.
Alice Kunek, know the name? Neither did I before she decided to dress up as her “favorite” rapper, Kanye West, and adorn blackface. Of course the Internet called her out, her teammate hit her with the side eye, and she a forced apologized. At the same time at least one of her teammates, Lauren Jackson (who is also white), chose to defend her by saying “”Alice is not the person who would do something to offend or hurt anybody — it was a mistake (Sydney Morning Hearld, 2016).”
Kunek’s apology consisted of four tweets. Her tweets gave off the “I’m just doing this so I don’t get fired” vibe. You can read them below and tell me what you think.
In 2016, I thought maybe, just maybe, we wouldn’t have to have this conversation. Apparently, Alice Kunek didn’t get the memo that blackface wasn’t cool. So instead of just dragging her, let’s attempt teach her and all respectable white folk this lesson one last time.
Blackface represents a time period where blacks weren’t allowed to even represent themselves, let alone accurately, in the visual arts. Therefore the stereotypical visual of them with huge lips, tar black skin, and the overall coon/happy slave personality was showcased. It is said to have dated back to the 1400s when West Africans were being held captive in Portugal. White actors would put on “blackness” in order to amuse their white audiences. However, let’s fast forward to 1828 to Thomas D. Rice would actually make it popular with the song “Jump Jim Crow.” Yes that Jim Crow. The song’s name would later be used as the name for a set of laws that segregated and discriminated against African Americans in this country.
In the 1830-40s the character traits of those that bore blackface had developed, but not in a good way. Actors in blackface portrayed Africans Americans as lazy, stupid, and cowardly. Blacks were also seen as people who stole, raped, and pillaged if you allowed them. We won’t even get into the fact that white male actors played black female characters and either overly sexualized them or pushed forward the mammy ideals. Essentially blackface allowed white actors to continue to stereotype blacks as whatever they wanted them to be. It allowed them to further put fear in the eyes of its audience and remain control over the view of African Americans in society.
Fast forward to 1930, you would think we would have gotten it together but nope. Some of the film industry’s leading actors like Bing Crosby, Mickey Rooney, Shirley Temple, and Judy Garland (Yes, before Dorothy was singing about that rainbow she adorn some blackface) all wore blackface. Towards the end of the 1930s the use of blackface in film began to decline, although it was still used in things like cartoons until at least the 1950s.
The history behind blackface and its offensiveness is what it is. Adorning blackface is not a way to be more like the person you’re dressing up as. And before you even fix your lips to mention the movie “White Chicks” let me tell you, just don’t. “White Chicks” will never have the same affect that years of images of African American women/men being described as lazy, unethical, or idiotic. It will never deflect image that Black men have a need to rape white women or that Black women are sassy maids with stern dispositions. We can erase years of images that Black people are thieves or are overly sexualized. The thing is that the actions of one white person will never speak for their entire race. However, the images and actions that have been used showcase African Americans are always used as Dummies Guide to Understanding Black People.
Look your options are keep wearing blackface and risk the fact that you might get dragged on the Internet (and sometimes dragged in the streets if you’re not careful) or you can read a book, become enlightened, and use some common sense. The choice is and has always been yours, it would just be really nice if you chose to give a damn for once. We aren’t saying you can’t dress up as Kanye West or Beyoncé or Dorothy Dandridge, but what we are saying is don’t put blackface on. If my four year old daughter can dress up as Sofia the First without getting brown wig and painting herself with white makeup then you can get it together. So get it together or we’ll just keep getting you together. The choice is yours.
Roy Ward, Daniel Cherny (2016). Opals forward Alice Kunek apologises after angering Liz Cambage with ‘blackface’ post. http://www.smh.com.au/sport/basketball/opals-forward-alice-kunek-apologises-after-angering-liz-cambage-with-blackface-post-20160221-gmzlg5.html