Why are we still talking about Blackface?

You guys, I’m tired.

I’m tired of having to explain things.

I’m tired of having to explain, in fucking 2019, why blacking up is racist.

I’m tired of having to explain that yes, ‘White Chicks’ is different and no it isn’t racist, because blacking up carries with it intense historical significance associated with dehumanizing black people, and that despite being terrible, White Chicks was actually deeply satirical and it went entirely over your head.

I’m tired of having to explain that Tropic Thunder was also satirical and the Robert Downey Jr character was the object of ridicule, not black people, and that the blacking up in that movie was a vehicle for demonstrating the absurdity of blackface in film.

I’m tired of having to explain the same about Papa Lazarou from The League of Gentlemen. I’m tired of having to explain that Ali G was mocking white people who appropriate black culture, not black people themselves.

I’m tired of having to explain that blacking up, blackface, Golliwogs, the crows from Dumbo and whatever the fuck that kia-ora advert was all about, are, historically, deliberate exaggerations of black people and cultures, intended to mock, demean, dehumanize, and otherwise demonstrate the inferiority of black people.

Seriously, what the fuck is this shit?

I’m tired of having to explain that this dehumanization of black people was a deliberate strategy to justify their cruel and intolerable treatment, a hangover from slavery.

I’m tired of having to explain that slavery was bad.

I’m tired of having to explain that even if deliberate mockery of black people isn’t your specific intent, the impact of your choice to black up for fancy dress is real, and that maybe you should consider what your intent is, and whether you would do it if you knew there would be black people at that party.

I’m tired of having to explain that nobody thinks a 10 year old girl is racist for dressing up as Mo Saleh, but that perhaps the adults in that situation might have just been a little more cognizant of their choices and the effect they might have had on other people, that’s all.

I’m tired of having to explain that yes there probably are a few instances of black people you know who are “fine with it,” and fucking whoop-de-fucking-do for them quite frankly, but that doesn’t make it fine as, by and large, black voices are telling you it’s not.

I’m tired of having to explain all of this, over and over, to people who can’t (or more accurately won’t) understand what the problem with blackface and golliwogs and gucci sweaters, and prada keychains is, and think it’s ‘just harmless fun’ and that I should get over it.

I’m tired of having to explain that the fact that it’s 2019 makes this shit worse, not better.

I’m tired of shit like this.

I’m tired of explaining that yes, in amongst all of this, there are black people who are prejudiced and might harbour ill feeling toward white people, and that’s the world we live in. Prejudice exists everywhere, but none of that diminishes conversations about racism.

I’m tired because none of this is my fucking job.

I’m tired because the answers are there if you care to look.

If you ‘can’t see what all the fuss is about’, ask yourself this: Have I ever bothered to try and find out? Have I ever bothered to learn about the historical context of blackface? Like properly learn and read about it?

Ask yourself, have I looked for and listened to the many, many voices, writers, academics, historians, friends, family members who are telling me it’s a problem, or have I just dug my heels in because I don’t think that it’s a problem and my voice is more important?

Ask yourself why being able to dress up as a black person, collect your golliwogs (or sell them in your shitty little shop), or call someone ‘coloured’ is so important to you that you would continue to champion that cause even though you’re being told, repeatedly, that it’s not fucking cool.

Is that really the hill you wanna die on?

You guys, I’m tired.

I’m. Tired. Of. This.

____________________

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6 thoughts on “Why are we still talking about Blackface?

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