One More Time, White People: Blackface Is Wrong

It isn't funny, just ignorant: pundits
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 29, 2013 12:36 PM CDT
One More Time, White People: Blackface Is Wrong
This 1927 image originally released by Warner Bros. shows Al Jolson in blackface in the movie "The Jazz Singer."   (AP Photo/Warner Bros.)

Another Halloween, another white person dons blackface with predictable results. This time, it's actress Julianne Hough getting most of the heat, though there's apparently plenty of Travyon Martin impersonators out there, too, writes Roxane Gay at the Los Angeles Times. We're still taking about this? She discounts the "nonsense" defenses that involve free speech or the plea to lighten up because, hey, it's just a joke. People are apparently ignorant of the horrible history of blackface and its use in degrading African Americans, she writes.

"They think they’re being funny, but really, they’re using the freedom of Halloween, the pass we all get to indulge our secret selves, to say, to people of color: 'This is how we see you. This is how we think of you.'" At Grantland, Rembert Browne takes more of a deadpan approach in advising white people to skip the blackface. "Chances are, if someone tells you they were hurt by Julianne Hough's Halloween outfit, they are exaggerating," he writes. "But what is felt is merely a continuation of a long-held face-in-palm reaction, less 'how dare they' and more 'they'll never learn.' 'They' being white people, you see." Hough may be getting demonized unfairly, he adds. Then again, "is it fair that white people get to be white? No. Similarly, is it fair that I get to be black and white people don't? Also no. Nothing's fair." Click for his full column. Or for Gay's full column. (More blackface stories.)

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