First we’d like to say that we know this isn’t a PSA for everyone and that most people understand that Blackface is unacceptable. However, we felt it necessary to get this simple message out of the way before Halloween festivities officially begin.
We’d hate for someone out there to lose their way and decide to paint their face to drive home the point that they’re supposed to be a person of African descent for the holiday.
The reason we’d hate for this to happen is because Blackface is never okay under any circumstance. Furthermore, if your costume is not good enough to stand on it’s own without you having to show that you are portraying someone outside of your race, you need to go back to the drawing board on the actual costume.
If your costume is good though, people will understand who you are sans Blackface. We promise.
It seems as though this would be an unnecessary PSA considering that it’s 2016 — however 2016 has been an eye opener in so many ways when it comes to race relations in America so we won’t underestimate it in this instance.
Also, it’s already begun.
The issues surrounding Blackface surface every Halloween without fail as exhibited in the above photo posted by The Shade Room just a few days ago. In 2013 it was actress Julianne Hough as Orange is the New Black star Uzo Aduba and in 2015 it was country music star Jason Aldean dressed as Lil’ Wayne.
Those are just two out of way too many occurrences.
Aldean’s response to the controversy was, “In this day and age people are so sensitive that no matter what you do, somebody is going to make a big deal out of it.” He went on to say that he understands race is a “touchy subject” but that he meant no malice by it. His attitude, as troubling as it may be, represents a larger view of the issue.
In a study done by YouGov in 2015, it was found that 55% of White Americans think they should be able to wear anything on Halloween whether it offends someone or not. Clearly, we still have a major problem here.
To clarify, here’s where the “sensitivities” lie to all of the Jasons out there. Blackface is actually extremely racist and is steeped in a dark history of humiliation, hate and degradation. This is still the case whether it’s meant with malice or not.
To put it simply without losing anyone’s attention, the practice began in the 1830s and was used by White actors, who instead of hiring Black actors, chose to paint their faces while doing song and dance routines to mimic and mock Black people. When Blackface is worn it is continuing a legacy of mocking and degrading Black people and then dismissing their feelings about it.
Last but certainly not least, we’d like to address the counter argument about people of color wearing white face. While it is also completely unnecessary and again speaks to the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of the costume, it must be said that it isn’t seen as inflammatory because it simply has no harmful, deep-seated roots. Blackface on the other hand does.
Let’s all have fun this Halloween and put down the face paint, unless of course it has nothing to do with painting yourself to imitate another culture, in that case paint on!
This has been a public service announcement.