Monday, October 31, 2016

Is Blackface Racist?

I stumbled across an article in the New York Times that sought to wokesplain (#wokesplain) to people why it is wrong for a white person to present themselves as a person of a different race - especially on Halloween.

In my mind, implying that it is inherently offensive for one to darken their skin for the purpose of a costume is itself inherently offensive...to sound logic.




Intention matters.

If the makeup wearer's intention is to revive minstrel shows or to show the world how stupid or worthy of ridicule a particular group of people are, then yeah - wrong, racist & offensive.

But if someone who has pale skin wants to show other Halloween revelers how much they appreciate Lebron James...or Eddie Murphy - why is that offensive or racist?

Such logic would be the equivalent of someone saying that use of rope is racist because rope played a critical role in lynchings. Is rope racist? No? Then how is darkening one's skin for a costume racist?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that wearing skin darkening makeup cannot be racist - I'm just saying that it isn't inherently racist. Again, intention matters.

Powerful words are robbed of their meaning when we use them inaccurately.

To say it another way: The ability to call *actual* racism racism is lost when we call things that aren't racist racist.

Tell me why I am wrong. Happy Halloween.