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Why is blackface racially, socially and politically incorrect?

Modern Incidents of Blackface

The act of applying blackface has been a volatile issue since, in the early 1800s, white performers began rubbing burnt cork on their face during minstrel shows to portray African-Americans in a negative way.  During the early part of the 20th century, more and more Caucasian actors blackened their faces to become African-Americans on the stage, in the movies and on TV.  Due to the civil rights movement, the advancement African-Americans have made and the derogatory connotations associated with blackface, it was deemed inappropriate.  The incidents of the use of blackface have sharply decreased, and any use is seen as a racial slur.  The roots of blackface are seeped in ugly racial stereotypes; however, recently, many college campuses around the United State have found a new use for it:  as a Halloween costume, a joke, a prank.  The history behind this make-up causes these actions to be deemed socially unacceptable and consequent action to be taken.  However, it is the intent of the performer that should indicate how malicious the action is.  There can be legitimate uses of blackface, but it is when people are uneducated and jump to conclusion that troubles start.

Blackface became popular when used during the minstrel shows.  There are two different stories that tell the beginnings of minstrel shows.  Minstrel shows begin in the early 1830s in two different ways.  When Thomas Rice, who was a white musician, saw a black stable hand singing as he worked, Rice came up with the idea to add music and chorus and hit the road with the show (Curry 24).  This was the beginning of "the white-man's" minstrel show.  In other areas, local African American entertainers formed musical and theatrical groups that traveled around the United States and to parts of Europe, thus beginning the formal entertainment industry. They  performed “…humorous and dance-oriented, music-oriented, joke-oriented variety show[s], in between other kinds of more formal theatrical acts, but over time minstrelsy became itself the entertainment” (Foster).  This was the beginning of the African-American minstrel show.

The minstrel shows that were originally performed by African-Americans were a celebration of African-American music and dance.  It is when whites began to dress up in tattered clothing and began rubbing burnt cork on their face that the shows eventually became offensive. Though the typical stereotype is that only Caucasians performed in blackface, African Americans were known to paint their faces to appear blacker than they really were, only perpetuating the stereotype that the blacker one was, the stupid one was as well (Toronto Star). African Americans were originally presented in the minstrel shows as being "…stupid…comical…a frivolous character" (Foster).  Once minstrel shows became an entertainment item of their own, they began to have a structure and certain characteristics.  The Virginia Minstrels were the first develop different characters that were much more flamboyant than previous.  They introduced Mr. Bones, Mr. Tambo, the semi-circle format, and the more outrageous characters.  The standard line-up included a fiddler, a "tambo" or tambourine, a banjo and bone castanets.  They mixed African and European musical elements to create a truly unique musical style (Curry 25).  This is when the art form morphed from a celebration on African-American music and dance to an ugly "peepshow" into plantation life, as if the minstrel shows would give some insight into the inner workings of the African Americans.  "That's when you really get the negative characterization of blacks as the total comic fool…" (Foster).  It is easy to see how such shows could become offensive, as it was the only form of entertainment African-Americans were allowed to participate in.

The theatrical stage and the movie screen were similarly limited as we moved into the 20th century.  Minstrel shows continued in Great Britain until the 1960s with the popular variety show The Black and White Minstrel Show (Toronto Star).  Roles for African Americans were scarce.  Most of them were limited caricatures or distorted imitations stemming from the foolish antics of the minstrel shows (Hopkins 6).  Both theatre and movies condoned the use of blackface, as can be seen in The Jazz Singer when Al Jolson paints his face black.  Other actors included Eddie Cantor, Bert Williams and Fred Astaire (Toronto Star), (Corliss 82).  Some argue, though, that Jolson was not dressing up in blackface as a sign of disrespect, but because that's what people had become to expect of him.  Some, to this day, consider that an appropriate use of blackface (Toronto Star).

Moving past this, in the mid part of the 20th century and during the civil rights movement, African American began to make their own place in movies and theatre, sending the need for Caucasian actors in black make-up to the background.  Playwrights such as Lorraine Hansberry, Geroge C. Wolfe and Eugene O'Neill, among many others, helped pave the way and created more varied and interesting roles for African-American actors.  O'Neill was especially helpful when, in 1920, he wrote The Emperor Jones in which Brutus Jones is an Africa- American hero and shatters the tradition of the foolish black minstrel role (Hopkins 7).

African-Americans have made great strides, not only in personal struggles for recognition and civil rights, but for the basic right to portray themselves as real people in different entertainment forms.  The act of donning blackface is considered hateful now in our quick-to-point-a-finger society, no matter what the reasons for using it.  However, many college fraternities on campuses around the United States have suffered severe consequences after using blackface in different ways.  Again, it is the intent of the performers or students that tends to indicate how severely, or if at all, they are punished.

The following is a list of the incidents of blackface and the subsequent actions that were taken.

1.              University of Alabama at Birmingham:  In 2001, three white medical students dressed as Stevie Wonder, a character from Fat Albert and a black woman to go to a Halloween costume party.  All three wore blackface.  They have since apologized publicly (Bartlett).

2.              University of Tennessee:  In 2002, six white Kappa Sigma fraternity members used blackface as part of a Jackson 5 Halloween costume.  They were seen by black students while walking to a private, off-campus party.  Kappa Sigma was suspended, but the students were not punished (Jet).

3.              Syracuse University, New York:  In 2002, a white member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity went to a bar dressed in blackface as part of a Tiger Woods costume.  There was no statement to indicate what sort of action had been taken against the student  (Black Issues in Higher Education).

4.              University of Wisconsin-Whitewater:  In 2001, a Caucasain member of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity appeared in brown body paint to portray Charles Barkley at the annual homecoming variety show.  The fraternity wrote apology letters that were distributed around the campus, insisting there was no malicious intent (Schuster).

5.              University of Virginia:  In 2002, Caucasian members of the Zeta Psi and Kappa Alpha dressed up as Uncle Sam in blackface and an Afro wig and Venus and Serena Williams.  Nothing was done to Kappa Alpha, as it was determined that the offending students were from Zeta Psi, which is on probation now (Hamilton).

6.              University of Louisville, Kentucky:  In 2001, Caucasian Tau Kappa Eplison members attended a Halloween party in blackface.  (Ironically, one African American member dressed in a Ku Klux Klan costume, and no action was taken against him.)  The chapter has been suspended  (Bartlett).

7.              Auburn University, Alabama: In 2001, white member of two fraternities (Delta Sigma Phi and Beta Theta Phi) wore blackface to Halloween parties.  Pictures were taken, and one of the cruelest depicted one student dressed in a Ku Klux Klan costume, holding a noose around another student, who is in blackface, standing in front of a Confederate flag. Both chapters have been shut down and are no longer recognized by the university.  Fifteen members total from the fraternities have been suspended from the university, pending further action (Bartlett), (Burroughs).

8.              University of Mississippi:  In 2001, two white students attend a Halloween party and a picture was taken of one in blackface on his knees, picking cotton from a small bucket.  The other is dressed as a policeman, holding a gun to the other's head.  The incident is pending further action (Bartlett).

These incidents, which are no doubt just a sampling, sparked heated reactions, mainly in the form of protests and demands of heads of the universities to do something with the perpetrators.  However, it is interesting to look at the intent of the students and the subsequent punishment.

            Students who dressed up as famous figures, such as Charles Barkley, Stevie Wonder, Tiger Woods and the Jackson 5 had to apologize publicly.  Those students who chose a more racially pointed action (the black person and policeman, the Ku Klux Klan) were reprimanded more severely.  It is possible that the judges in these cases are looking past the simple act of putting black make-up on and looking at the intent of the students.  While it is understandable that due to its history, blackface is considered rude and offensive, people can tend to jump to the wrong conclusions when it comes to these incidents.  Dressing up as Al Jolson in blackface has a different intent and a different effect then dressing up as a black man being beaten by a white police officer. 

The main cause behind these incidents and the controversy they sparked is ignorance.  Those who put on the blackface are ignorant of the racial discord and stereotypes that go along with it.  To some extent, the accusers are ignorant of the motive of those who don blackface.  In  some cases, a malicious intent is obvious, other times; people want to jump to conclusions too quickly, assuming the intent was to hurt.  According to Jim Butchart, a theatre professor at UW-Whitewater, he devoted a whole day to class discussion of the incident with the TKEs at the variety show because "…an incident like this deserves recognition and people need to be educated on what blackface is and where it came from and its implications."  If more people were educated on the topic, perhaps incidents like this wouldn't be as volatile.

Blackface is still used in the entertainment industry today.  The most popular example is Spike Lee's movie Bamboozled.  A fictional, struggling TV network comes up with the idea to reinvented the minstrel show, and it's a smash hit among the viewers, and audience members show up in blackface.  (Corliss 82).  Lee is obviously making a point about race in society today; he didn't use blackface to be offensive.  There are other things in the movie to do that. 

In the television series Touched by an Angel, the Caucasian character of Monica (Roma Downey) wakes up one morning, and is transformed into a black woman  (Makeups).  Black make-up, instead of a different actress, was used.  In this instance, there was no hurtful intent.  In fact, the episode was used to show sympathy for African-American females.  Speaking in a purely pragmatic sense, why would something like this be offensive?  Neither the intent nor the result was harmful.  However, there are some actors who won't touch black face.  Kelly Doherty, a theatre performance major at UW-Whitewater indicated that she wouldn't feel comfortable playing a role in blackface because she couldn't play an African-American as well as someone who was actually of that ethnicity and she would be afraid of playing a stereotype that might offend someone.  Mark Dujsik, another performance major added that there was no point in casting Caucasian actors in African-American parts, as there are plenty of good African-American actors.  However, they both agreed that there could be few situations where blackface would be appropriate, but neither actor would feel comfortable performing in such roles.

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Ethnic casting and color-blind casting have soothed some of the wounds that blackface caused.  Plays like Raisin in the Sun and The Colored Museum haveprovided excellent opportunities for African-American performers.  Also, directors have found creative ways around the use of blackface or all white actors, such as casting Patrick Stewart as the title role in Othello and casting the other characters as African-Americans, causing Othello to be an outsider in a different way (Butchart).  It is quite easy to find blackface offensive due to it's roots, but we have moved past the era when it is offensive and into an era where those who use it for professional reasons do so with sensitivity and those who misuse it are in need of education on the topic.  It is part of the African-American heritage and must be dealt with accordingly.  "Years from now, blacks may be chagrined to recall that their young men addressed one another familiarly as "Nigger" and chose hoodlums as their cultural gods" (Corliss 82).  It is the same idea behind blackface.


Luz on February 06, 2019:

I am Mexican and I came to this country as a teenager, until today I never knew that it was offensive for a person to blacken his/her face as a custom, or for a Halloween party.

Anonymous on October 20, 2014:

There are MILLIONS of costume options. No need to dress up in black face in this day and age. Whether you get it or not - it offends and that makes it inappropriate. If you insist on wearing racist outfits, do it in the privacy of your own home with like-minded people.

TruthTeller on January 30, 2014:

No, it's not racist- so hush people, and stop being stingy little sour patches

brian on December 28, 2013:

Black skin would really help the white man moving forward.

Just A Thought on November 23, 2013:

Here is just a way I look at historical context. Now I do believe history is something that should be readily available and common knowledge, historical context isn't always relevant to today's society. As this article points out, blackface make-up did not start out being used with ill intent, but it was turned that way when people with malice in their hearts and actions used it to demean a whole race of people. It was offensive then, no doubt about that. How many years ago was that though? Historical context does not always have a place in present society. I'm not naïve to the fact that there are still incidents of racism today, but I find it hard pressed to feel that wearing black make-up especially in the context of its origin, has had an emotional effect or even directly effected anyone alive today. The same could be argued about someone dressing up as a crusader and offending Christians or dressing up as Christopher Columbus in the context of anything having to do with Native Americans. No one gets offended at these things because people have long moved on from the negative connotations of these incidents but have instead found a new cultural meaning.

All this to say, if people with good intentions move something that had a bad context into a better cultural light, maybe people would be less likely to point fingers out of an immediate desire to "burn the witch at the stake" if you will. All this has become is the modern equivalent of a witch hunt. When someone truly offends you to your core, as some in these situations claim to be, then maybe you should take the higher road and rise above what people would just assume you would do. Educate and eradicate the ignorance instead of forming a witch hunt or lynch mob or crusade or just general hate for people who don't know any better.

Real-Talk on November 22, 2013:

Im very happy this study was done, after reading all the commets I can honestly say im very proud to be BLack-African American, and after reading this im learning that its alot of RaCist people who want to justify looking like ME BEAUTIFUL ;-]

Stephanie on November 07, 2013:

Honestly, this is amazing to me. I think that finding it racist or wrong to be so comfortable with equality that you can cross skin pigments without an issue speaks of a person who is so NOT racist that they want to emulate and celebrate persons of another culture. That's like saying every time a black person dyes xir hair blonde or dons a wig for a costume that it is a form of racism. It isn't. The only people being racist are the people trying to segregate what you can or can't do based on your skin-tone.

Crkjo13 on October 31, 2013:

The sections of the history that are being omitted will be repeated.

myniki813 on October 10, 2013:

@ "end the hate" please re-read your comment think about what you just typed. The problem is that everyone thinks they have it bad without actually knowing what the other has gone through. What do you mean thousands of years ? Jews were attecked for a hundred or less,no where near a thousand. At least jews know their history and culture. Blacks haven't even scratched the surface of who we are. Notice how it seems like i believe blacks had it worse ? Because we all have opinions. You think your kind had it bad and i think everyone has it bad. Just in different ways, and in different positions. I feel its unfair to try and choose who had it worse. Please don't use others' pain to justify your feelings. We as present people can not and will not ever be able to understand what they went through. The hate is never gonna stop. Humans have been waging war since the beggining. We will not stop until we all either look alike and act alike OR go back to our own countries and STOP mixing. Black face I must say irritates me. In fact all racist stereotypes and anything having to do with race makes me mad. Its frustrating and tiring to think about. The world is probably never gonna move forward as long as humans keep tearing each other down along with the earth. We are our own and the planet's worst enemies. More people need to realize this,and all the other crap that goes on. I sure do nowadays after searching things up and going out into the world. I understand more and more everyday. You learn something new everday is a true statement. Only people truley knew what goes much to say...give you a hint "Holleywood".

END THE HATE on August 28, 2013:

It's crazy that people think that white people were & are not still discriminated against. Not just by blacks, but by other whites. Ever watched Gaings of New York? It's still similar today. People will discriminate for any reason. Irish hate the English,Italian hate the French, on n on. The jews have had it worse than anyone period. Thousands of years of slavery & you don't hear them crying about it. Millions tortured & burned by the Nazis. Even today Jews are being murdered daily by muslims & others across the world. Today we have sex slaves & it's bad! You don't hear much about it though. It's crazy the world we live in. Will the racism ever end? I'm poor & caucasion,but because of the color of my skin,some people think I've got it made. WRONG! It's racist to call me white or cracker,pasty,etc. You never ever hear about that. I guess part of it depends on where you live. I was the only white kid in my school growing up & was picked on & bullied daily. When my son entered Kinder. it was the same for him, but worse. He came home every day beat-up. I told him that he could not help the color of his skin. Teachers & Principal did nothing. Now this is a shame, when you don't practice what you preach. I know why, it's because of the parents teaching their kids to hate! Anyone who teaches a 5 year old to hate because of the color of their skin has problems,no matter what ethnicity you are!!!! END THE HATE!!!!

Jan on May 01, 2013:

Look just put a mask on hell u can make one its easy...... Then boom no more people feelings get hurt over blackface or whiteface ect. Problem solved!!

Random Guy on April 12, 2013:

I hate hate crimes and double standards. "Dave Chappelle did white face, but that's okay, because of their history" vs "X random white guy can't go blackface because of black's history!" is senseless. I'm sorry, but it is. You guys want the races to be equal? Remember the past, but don't enforce it needlessly. I'm white, personally, and want the races to be equal very much, but if you're seperating what one does in the name of comedy based on their race and the history of said race (ex. Dave Chappelle in Whiteface, costumed white guys in blackface) then you don't want them to be equal, you want to be argumentative.

It's not like they're going around in Apollo theatre or a primarily black comedy club and using the N-word as the punchline of a joke.

Truth hurts on October 26, 2012:

Rediculous...people get In trouble for a Jackson 5 Halloween costume? Don't you think they would look stupid as the Jackson 5..white...? When used in a costume, and people still can't see it's just a costume, proves why black people are more racist than whites...would this discussion happen if a black had put on white make up? No..of course not...but when it's the other way around, it's a hate crime...just like everything else...

michaelkemsens on June 20, 2012:

long time no see gaza sorry iv took so long here is the contact

and some info , they have a deal on at the mo ,just say micky k recommened you

Zooey G. on May 23, 2012:

Mr. White Man: If you are so offended by this writer's grammatical errors, you might want to check your own. It is "THEIR grammar correctly", not "there grammar correctly". Follow your own advice and use where you can "check to see if you are using your grammar correctly".

justsayin on May 22, 2012:

I think the intent of painting your face black holds more significance than the act itself... You know what you mean when you do it as long as its not malicious in nature it cool with me and I'm Black but act like you picking cotton, we gonna have a problem ! Discipline need be taken #justsayin

whysopolar on May 21, 2012:

I fail to understand why we just can't make the distinction between blackface and a simple halloween costume. I understand that blackface is extremely offensive but it was also a stylistic element when used in minstrels. That's like saying every stylistic element is used for the same purpose across the board in every situation. That's clearly not the case. I think it's the intent and use of blackface that's offensive and not simply changing the color of your skin.

Isabella on May 20, 2012:

The reason for whites not being allowed to dress up as people of color when the same/the opposite rule doesn't apply for people of color is because whites have never been oppressed because of their skin color or race. Sexuality or gender, perhaps, but not the color of their skin. And the fact that whites complain about POC complaining about what they find to be acts of racism is so fucking ignorant and reactionary. Forbidding "black face" isn't some "objective truth", it's just taking the opinion of Africans and African-Americans seriously and into consideration.

B-Dawg on May 08, 2012:

I love having a black face! and i appreciate the perks I don't have to watch what i say like da white man does. If Hank williams Jr. had my face he would still be singing ARE U READY FO SOME FOOTBALL! WHITE MAN DO THE RIGHT AND GET A RACE CHANGE! peace

Gabby on April 13, 2012:

All u ppl are crazy!!! Who gives a fuck if u paint ur face black purple blue or any other color? Is 21st century we all broke, sick, unemployed and killing eachother every minute of everyday and you all here discussing about wht fuckng color u should or should not paint ur face get over urselves and cutt the crap life is much deeper thn this!!!

t on March 14, 2012:

Lola bwa you talk about educating well the term "Jews" is a lot more offensive then black face my people the Jewish people suffered more and longer then black people and still fight for our lives in Israel everyday so before jumping on the shame the uneducated bandwagon you may want to learn a little about the stereo typing of Jewish people and what offends us before you make a witty attempt to synthesize

spellcheck on March 08, 2012:

Mr white guy - you are correct to criticize incorrect grammar and Spelling, bur are an idiot for making the same mistakes that you criticize in your own post.

Sigh on March 08, 2012:

I agree with "wtf" it's a costume. People are overly sensitive and always assume everything is about being racist when it comes to black people. Inow days of someone does it it has NOTHING to do with being racist. Get over it already and quit assuming anything a white person does is racist, it's pathetic to pull the race card in every situation. I bet none of you got offended when Robert downy jr dressed as a black man, for a PART, IN a comedy did you?! Quit crying woh is me from past experiences that you and or any white person now days was a part of and had nothing to do with. A black person can dress up as a white person, make fun of white people and it's OK, but if a white person does any of that then its racist. Stfu

bo pete on October 31, 2011:

shut up bo- who cares?

Bo on October 31, 2011:

I hate to post this, but I'm genuinely wondering what people's opinions are on this: There's a character from the Nickelodeon sketch comedy show from the 90's called "All That," and one of the most memorable characters from the show is "Repairman Man Man Man Man!" He was played by the actor Kel Mitchell, and was full blown funny. I grew up in the 90's, and All That was one of the major staples to my daily after school life. I LOVED watching All That, and Repairman Man Man Man Man was, and still is, one of my all-time favorite television characters. Last year, I decided to dress up as the character for Halloween. Only thing is, I'm not only a female who was dressed as a male, but a Caucasian female dressed as a black male. I meant no harm WHATSOEVER, because I genuinely idolize the character I watched for several years, but I did put on dark brown skin make-up and a wig to resemble the character full-blown. To my knowledge, no one I know personally was offended, and every person I met that night - black, white, Asian, Indian, etc. - absolutely loved my costume. I even carried around a picture of myself so that people could see the insane transformation. Would this be considered offensive to anyone - just from reading this story? You could definitely say I'm well educated on the history of African-Americans, and I can honestly appreciate the struggle that it was/unfortunately still is going on in our world today. The event is over and done, but I would just like to know how other people would view this situation. Thanks for reading this, and thanks in advance for your responses.

Hmm on October 30, 2011:

See my problem with this whole "politically incorrect" blackface thing, is the fact that everybody is making it sound like its a bad thing to have black skin. Like seriously if a white person wants to go out on halloween as someone who is black and vice versa, then who the heck cares? Honestly, you're probably being more offensive by taking this simple costume the wrong way. I understand the debate on the past and our ancestors and all that but think about it.. Today we live in a place where equality is huge, no matter what race, gender, sexuality, etc. Saying that a white person cant dress up as a black person is pretty much the same as saying a boy cant dress up as a girl because of the lack of rights females had in the past, and so on. So think about what really is racist. A costume, or the offence taken from the costume. That's all I have to say.

really? on October 10, 2011:

Since we did not live in these times, we CAN stand up and redefine what things mean. We should not be held by the shackles of our ancestors (Black or white). This is a new day and this is America. We do have it good here. We are a nation of instant gratification and that is because maybe we have it "too good". This means that our country is a great place if this is one of our problems. We all have the opportunity to go to college and make a life of grandeur for ourselves. We should learn about our past and acknowledge it, but why stay bound by the past? Staying bound by the past can limit you in the future and those chains can become your own personal "blackface".

TKE #806 on August 25, 2011:

I can assure that the Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity did much more than just issue apology letters. I was there and we raised $10,000+ to bring in a speaker to help educate the students about why this is a racially sensitive issue. Please get your facts straight before you write this. Also the student you mention that painted his face was done by an african american student not by him.

geez on June 24, 2011:

America is a free country and we are all protected by our first amendment rights. Really guys?

lolo bwa on March 18, 2011:

The fact remains you guys can masquerade and "make fun" yet return to your lives as a previleged racial class. Black skin is no joke. Black skin is not "funny."

It appears that there is little historical perspective here. These were meant to portray Black people in the most demeaning light possible and you guys think we should just "get over it."

The history we have since we first crossed each other's path has been death,destruction and desecration of what we hold dear.

Consider yourselves fortunate that many of us are sedated into "integration." I wonder why you ask us to "lighten up". It's because of that mentality I remind my children and grandchildren to be vigilant in recognizing that mentality. They know that if they are ignorant of history, they are doomed to repeat it.

BTW, when you may see a refined Black man or woman who may appear educated... be aware that many of us arer equuiped to recognize what lies behind your eyes. Though we share the same beds and offices, we are watchful. Like the jews say "never again"

Brian on February 23, 2011:

Marcel540 is right on.... Paint your face with white paint and no one takes offence. Paint your face black, now you are a confederate southern plantation owner.

N.o. on February 17, 2011:

(Noname)Why would you hire unqualified employees? Why not just find qualified females and blacks to employ? What I think people aren't understanding is, its not the fact that "you" owned slaves but you haved reaped the benefits from your ancestors owning slaves without taking notice.(Be greatful for the strides made by those who came before you). America in general has receieved plenty from people who were never intended to be citizens. For many years blacks received treatment not becoming of a dog. Many black American accomplishments that benefited America cannot be found in a standard high school U.S. history book. Their contributions are played down and only remembered in the shortest month of the year(haha). Educating our youth about America's true roots could possibly spark their interest on knowledge about their country. It could also jump start the process of Americans understanding and respecting each others cultures. If Dave Chapelle did a white face of Hitler on his show, he would have been forced to apologize as well. We're any of those college students in black face taking a "African American Studies" class? Everything that black people in America have gone through because of their skin complexion alone, I would think the least a white person could do is let them have their color.

noname on November 06, 2010:

OMG holy racism battle batman. I am going to side with shauna, ease up a little guys. I guess in your world, we can look forward to a day when everythings sacred, and nothings funny. I mean, hey, don't make fun of lindsay lohan's addictions, because my uncle has an addiction. Or don't make fun of the government because my forfathers laid they're lives on the line to establish our country. Get over yourself, I'm going to enlighten you morons about a little thing called humor. Yeah humor, that's the thing you and your buddys enjoy while watching clayton bigsby talk about black, white supremacy. I'm white, I never had slaves, I'm not a white supremacist....but I do think that sketch is funny. Its our past. I'm not responsible for it, so I take no credit for it. Our society had come leaps and bounds since then. Its quite the contrary now. I work for a employment commision that hires for outside companies. We have to hire a certain about of black employees, and a certain amount of women. Regardlees of their qualifications, everyday I hire unqualified people because of the color of their skin, because I have to hire a certain percentage of black applicants.

I'm getting sidetracked, but my point is, if we adhere to your point of view, eventually we won't be able to laugh at anything. Due to the fact that someones feelings might get hurt. Personally, I like to laugh. I don't know about you guys, but It's usually at someones expense. If you get your way......we won't be able to make fun of anything, for fear of offending someone.

Shauna on November 05, 2010:

I hate to get involved in heated topics like this, but i'm with marcel540. get over it hipsters. your times better spent looking for a new gay band t-shirt than fighting racism. lighten up a little, there's a big difference in blackface sambo, and joke about montels weight machine commercials.

... on November 04, 2010:

Marcel540, you are a grade-A idiot

marcel540 on November 04, 2010:

You people are ridiculous! If you want to dress up as Montel, then do it. If your black buddy wants to dress up as Forrest Gump, then do it. I refuse to believe you super PC people really care about blackface. Rather, you just want your other PC buddys to think you do. Racism is funny sometimes. I had a 2 white roomates in college that used to scold people all the time about racism. They took "offense" to the slightest hint of a racist comment, as inocent as they often were. The thing that offended me the most was not the comments, they were often funny, but rather my roomates taking offense to them. Acting like you care is worse than anything. I often made slitght comment about whites, they never had a problem with that. They actually found humor it that. They don't have a problem with racism, they have an ellitist mindframe. They just wanted to act like they were better than the other guys who poked fun at peoples race or gender or whatever. Guess what people, if you mean no harm, and the people you're addressing know that, then its OK! You don't have to be Dave Chappelle to make light of race. Black, white, jewish, christian, whatever. Evidently racism is only acceptable is you have a time slot on comedy central. Oh yeah and I'm "African American" as you "caucasian" people refer to us. haha

Rachelmp on October 31, 2010:

Paul, people like you drive me crazy. The fact that you can even compare you dressing in Black face to Dave Chappelle in White face shows me you have zero knowledge of our history and why it would be extremely offensive for you to dress as such. Black face was used by Whites to show Blacks as having social imperfection, being inferior and having a lack of mental capacity. It was a means to justify racism and segregation against Blacks, to make Whites the social norm. Until Whites have experienced the kind of racism, suppression, hate, lack of resources etc that Blacks have it's not OK for you justify your "costume" to Dave Chappelle and his White face. Oh, I'm white too. Happy Halloween.

paul on October 28, 2010:

So I'm thinking of going as Montel Williams for halloween this year (I'm white). It's a total inside joke based on an infomercial that he has about his healthmaster. I don't think it's offensive to go black face, because of my intent. If it is, then it is certainly offensive for Dave Chappelle to have gone white face several times on his tv show, and I never heard any complaints about that.

Mr. White Man on September 29, 2010:

SpanStar, you really should learn how to spell. "Then" and "than" have two completely different meanings, as do "to" and "too". We all obviously have computers these days. there are several websites such as where someone can check to see if they are using there grammar correctly. As far as this ridiculous article, I find it offensive. Some people just type faster than they have the capicity to think.

WTF on September 23, 2010:

Is wrong with you's a costume...get over it.

Ariana (Romania) on June 16, 2010:

Hey, there! I am doing a research paper on blackface minstrelsy and I came across your article. I think it's really interesting and I was wondering if you had any references to what you wrote. This is my e-mail If you can spare the time and write, I would be very grateful. Thank you.

WordNLipsAffair on June 08, 2010:

Interesting...very interesting....

SpanStar on May 29, 2010:

Blackface is more then just an act especially to those effected by the time period. Blackface typically the slow minded Black person buffoon. If we never get rid of these images of Black people then it's only to easy to say you aren't good enough to get that poisition because they're going off images that aren't true just like we profile Black People driving expensive cars.

James F on November 07, 2009:

a case of black face in toronto....where the colleges who threw the party gave students dressed in black face an award!

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