Once again, Black folks have to repeat themselves and tell people like Megyn Kelly why Blackface is a no-no.
This time of the year tends to bring folks wearing dark paint on their faces out of the woodwork, showing that the need to tell them of the racist harm inflicted by their selfish and reckless decisions is a must. Seemingly, people of color have to do this annual public service announcement warning against Blackface. Sigh.
For the record, Kelly wondered aloud on her NBC talk show Tuesday morning what exactly was wrong with Blackface.“When I was a kid, that was OK, so long as you were dressing up as a character,” she said. Aside from the oblivious folks on her all-white panel, Kelly needs to know that excusing the pain and racism behind Blackface by saying it’s “OK” is not okay.
Her latest offensive stunt on her show came after a man donned Blackface to dress up as Tiger Woods for a dog parade in Ohio on Saturday. Community members called out the unidentified man for his “disgusting display of racism,” demanded an apology and asked officials to enforce a zero-tolerance anti-racism policy.
With all of these incidents going on, it’s time to give a history lesson on Blackface and why it matters that people shut it down.
Blackface is born from minstrelsy, a performance method historically used by whites to depict “blackness” as an assemblage of derogatory stereotypes. Traditionally, performers wore exaggerated costumes and make-up, including painting their faces black. They distorted the eyes and lips of African-Americans, mocking their physical appearances, movements, intellectual ability and characters, according to a report by the National Museum Of African American History and Culture.
Minstrelsy, which emerged in the 1830s, was done by white performers who used Black shoe polish or burnt cork to paint their faces black. They wore tattered clothes to represent African-American slaves, portraying them as “lazy, ignorant and hypersexualized.” They mocked Blacks for entertainment’s sake, and their antagonism was based on a still-existing feeling of superiority over African-Americans.
Kelly and other people purportedly uneducated about Blackface should know its history and racist roots. Then, perhaps, people will think twice or ask someone of color about Blackface before they do something horribly offensive.