Recently Netflix released a new original series called Dear White People. Dear White People is about a group of black students who face racism at a predominantly white Ivy League college called Winchester University. They experience social injustice, activism, white privilege and even a party whose theme was Blackface, hosted by white people. The show’s main focus is around the black face party and how the reason for this party was to get back at a black student named Samantha White for making an “offensive” radio show called Dear White People. This show brought to life the experiences that black-americans go through on a daily bases. From comments of “What are you?” to “You’re pretty for a black girl” and even show experiences of a POC coming out as gay, the idea of interracial relationships, and even people denying that racism exists, even though there was a black face party!
After watching Dear White People, I realized how impactful this show is about our post-racial society and how pretty much the point is, don’t do black face. Now for anyone that doesn’t know, blackface is defined as “…a form of theatrical makeup used by performers to represent a black person.” During the 19th and 20th century, blackface was used to represent an African-American is a very comedic way since black people weren’t allowed in film. White people used blackface to dehumanize black people’s character, to portray all blacks as something they’re not, and to make society look at blacks like they’re are the worst thing to ever live. A lot of stereotypes that are still used today began in film when white people used blackface. Slaves were portrayed in films as being loud and ghetto, rapists for lusting after white women, and whores/sluts because slaves were sleeping with white men or women (this is where the term “jungle fever” came from).
Now people may think that people aren’t that ignorant to used blackface today but you’re wrong. Blackface is used in media such as fashion shows and used on models, as halloween costumes, and even to mock the black lives matter movement today. I can show you an example of each. In the modeling industry, white models are used to portray black people more than an actual black people themselves. In this picture below model, Gigi Hadid, portrayed a black model with afro kinky hair and darker skin. There was such outrage against the photoshoot that her pictures ended up being removed from the magazine but her photos still circulate around today. The black community knows she didn’t learn from her mistake because she culturally appropriated other cultures in magazines as well.
As halloween costumes, actress and dancer, Julianne Hough, dressed as character ‘Crazy Eyes’ from Netflix show Orange is the New Black. She wore her hair in mini buns and painted her skin darker. Although she did apologize on Twitter claiming that she adored that character and wanted to be her, many believe her publicist apologized for her.
As words from black student, Samantha White, in Dear White People,
“Dear white people, here’s a list of acceptable Halloween costumes: pirate, slutty nurse, any of our first 43 presidents. Top of the list of unacceptable costumes, me.”
Recently several photos from college students used dark foundation or black paint to paint their face and mock the Black Lives Matter movement. One woman snapchatted her friend wearing blackface and stuffed her pants with a pillow to resemble a black woman yelling “Black lives matter, fuck white people!!” Another man on Facebook dressed his brother up as a Black lives matter protester with a dark beanie and overdrawn his lips for Halloween. And last but not least, four white women from North Dakota used black paint to resemble black women and posted on snapchat “Black Lives Matter”.
As you can see Blackface is still an issue today. Not only is Blackface offensive but it’s embarrassing to the black community because of the history behind it. To think that Blackface today is still considered a “fun” thing to do pushes aside the pain of what African Americans went through in the past. Blackface is what causes stereotypes to last.
Let’s end this blog with a little tip. Dear white people, Don’t do black face.
The Black Community
Trailer to Dear White People: