Mulattea is a blog written by Skye Haynes. Her posts explore mixed identity, feminism, race, religion, and privilege.

It's 2017. Can We Stop Using Blackface?

It's 2017. Can We Stop Using Blackface?

It's 2017 and I can't believe I still have to address this.

I've been really annoyed with the amount of blackface controversies that have come out in 2017 alone. Honestly it's not just blackface either, it's yellowface, redface, you name it— they've done it. 

Let's look at blackface historically first, shall we?

Blackface and its purpose

Blackface was used in lieu of actual black entertainers since the creation of film. Think Birth of a Nation, Amos and Andy, or Jump Jim Crow. Or, more horrifyingly, minstrel shows. I mean, have you ever watched a minstrel show? They're so scary looking

But past the awful looking caricaturized lips, black skin, and bright white teeth, if you think about the actual portrayal of black people in these performances, you'll see that they're roles that just seek to reinforce stereotypes about the black community.

When you see blackface, it's for one of two reasons. Or both if you're extra racist. 

 1) We didn't want to hire a black person

 2) No black person wanted to portray this role. 

It's not surprising when you see blackface in old movies because it was accepted among actors, producers, and audiences that black people were an other. Subhuman. Undeserving of true representation. Instead, they figured, "Why don't we just take what we think black people are like (stereotypes) and use that to make everyone laugh?"

Modern Blackface

So over time people started to realize like, gee, maybe we should hire black people to portray black people. And maybe give them equal rights. Maybe.

Except not really, because this is still happening!

First, you've got college students that SOMEHOW think this is acceptable. 

Then you've got people like Kylie Jenner who have already appropriated black culture enough, but felt the need to portray herself like this.

You've also got people like this that just miss the point entirely

I want to beg people who ever find themselves putting brown makeup on their face to just stop for a second and think about the message they're trying to convey when they are finished. For example, the woman above probably thought she was doing something super deep by putting herself in other people's shoes. But girl. You could've just as easily talked to the people you're mimicking. Heard their stories. Taken pictures of THEM. Instead she made it about herself.

This particular post was spurred by the recent Jeffree Star Cosmetics controversy where Nikita Dragun, a trans Asian/Mexican model donned a spray tan that was then darkened by editing.

Let the record show that I really like Jeffree Star and his products. And Nikita is a beautiful model that's overcome so much adversity in her life. 


BUT.

If you're trying to get the dark skinned "look," why did you only choose white and light skinned models? It was a failure on the photo editor's behalf, and on the entire company for not realizing something could've been misconstrued as blackface. From a public relations standpoint, I'd pull the pictures and issue a statement apologizing while stressing the importance of diversity. 

But they won't do that, cause people never do.

There's been a lot of questionable stuff in the media recently. Like Karlie Kloss dressing as a geisha in Vogue, or Scarlet Johannson being the main chick in Ghost in the Shell. 

In an age where people of color are still fighting for equal representation in the media, why would you specifically hire someone white or light skinned just to darken their skin or make them appear more ethnic? It's beyond me. 

IT'S 2017. STOP USING BLACKFACE.

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