A white mayoral candidate in Oklahoma who performed in drag and blackface as a character named “Pollyester Kotton” is now apologizing for what he categorized as “satire.”
Bill Helton, a hair dresser currently serving as Elk City’s commissioner, told KFOR that he meant no harm when he created Kotton (yep, with a K); a character inspired by one of his African-American clients.
Yep. That happened.
Helton has performed as Kotton since 2005 at various fundraisers and community events across Oklahoma. In his most recent appearance, Helton told the news station he raised over $20,000 for three families in need — an indicator that the horrifying history of blackface isn’t bothering Helton’s supporters.
“Anyone that’s offended, I would sit down and talk to them. Because my heart is, I would never do that and want to help whoever I can help,” Helton said.“If they were offended, then I apologize because that was never my intent, never my heart, to set out to offend someone,” Helton said
“I don’t find it offensive at all. He’s out to do some good,” Marisa Garcia said.
But according to KFOR, not all are here for Helton’s “satire.”
Anthony R. Douglas, President of the Oklahoma State Conference NAACP, says the use of black face crosses the line. “Yes, this is a character. Men playing women or a woman playing a man is not new and can be very funny. But in black face? Have we learned nothing at all? This ‘character’ could have been just as effective done without the black face makeup and would be far less offensive,” Douglas said.
It’s disturbing enough to think there are those who don’t quite understand the hurtful history of minstrel shows. But the scariest of all is to think that Helton, who stands by his “Kotton” character and is still running for public office, doesn’t see the harm in it.
American politics, keeping it classy.
SOURCE: KFOR | VIDEO SOURCE: YouTube