Message, People! Blackface Is Not Smart, Cool Or Right To Do
Yes, OKP readers, it has happened again. Another non-person of color felt that it was OK to dress up in blackface and caused widespread, international offense of an entire people.
Australian basketball star Alice Kunek recently apologized after a photo of her dressed as Kanye West in blackface went viral. The Opal forward said that she posed in blackface because she wanted to accurately depict her favorite rapper. Kunek, 25, was attending a “Silly Sunday” celebration, which marked the end of the basketball season, with her team the Melbourne Boomers.
Rapper Briggs, an Australian hip-hop star, and fellow Melbourne Boomers teammate Elizabeth Cambage both expressed outrage on Twitter.
How to fuck up:
1. Do dumb Racist thing.
2. Post it online
3. Fake Apology
4. Stephanie Rice tells you it’s ok… https://t.co/R6hB2O8m37
— BRIGGS AKA BIG SIGH (@BriggsGE) February 21, 2016
blackface is disgusting, I honestly have no words. — Elizabeth Cambage (@ecambage) February 21, 2016
I’m am so shocked and disturbed to see this behavior from someone I’m meant to call a “teammate” pic.twitter.com/Rz9Hp33oCs
— Elizabeth Cambage (@ecambage) February 21, 2016
What is this love-hate relationship that certain melanin-deprived people have with blackface? It angers them when Michael B. Jordan gets offered to play a role originally depicted as a white man in the comics. It drives them up a wall when Idris Elba is called in to play a pivotal figure in Thor. You do know that these are fictional characters, right? Purely malleable and can be anyone if the director and studio so chooses. So, why can’t you see the problem in trying to portray a real live person?
Is it so wrong to understand why and how blackface is wrong and disgusting? To participate in such behavior not only insults the countless African and African American performers from the past, present and future, but it also means one is proliferating in racist imagery. Blackface is a form of cross-dressing that promoted stereotypes such as the “happy-go-lucky dark on the plantation” or the “dandified coon,” which were heavily rooted in American national art.
By wearing blackface, one is perpetuating the fallacy that African and African Americans are an inferior race. The Aussie baller might think that she is “honoring” her favorite rapper by attempting to look like him in costume and jest, but in actuality she should know that there is no way to separate blackface from its history of oppression. You, being a person who’s not really black, can easily remove the black paint and resume the luxury of your skin color’s privilege. And telling me and those like me that we cannot be offended by your actions, as a member of an oppressed group, is an act of privilege.
In other words, just stop.
Please don’t continue to make yourself a target of vitriol by embracing the chance to mock, dehumanize and dismiss the existence of actual people of color. You can dress up as your favorite black entertainer without having to slap on shoe polish to “fit the role”.