A recent Clutch post, “ANTM Jumps on the Blackface Bandwagon,” scrutinized Top Model’s decision to stage a blackface photoshoot, especially in light of the recent outrage over the use of the controversial “art form” in French Vogue.
Every year, people dress up like the current president for Halloween. Often, in ways that are less than flattering. And in today’s political climate, it is easy to attribute many criticisms of the president to festering racial anxiety, if not outright racism.
So, in addition to predicting that I’ll see three to five sets of the Real Housewives of Atlanta on Saturday night (note: whoever gets assigned to be NeNe should take that as a somber sign of her status in the group), I’m bracing myself for one or two blackface Baracks. And I’m trying to decide now – because I do my best thinking when I’m not in a ridiculous costume – how I’ll react.
One point of view among the many expressed in the fashion-industry blackface debates is that blackface must include an element of animosity, or at least disrespect, to deserve our attention or anger. I agree. And while the fashion spreads on Vogue and the ANTM shoot may be in a grey area, I think an accurate impersonation of the President by someone who sincerely supports and/or admires him should be safe.
So, while it’s an imperfect test, I’ve decided that I’ll refrain from hurling candy corn at follow partygoers who paint their faces to resemble the Commander in Chief, so long as two criteria are met:
1) The paint used to portray the President’s skin tone is the right color (suggesting that the person in costume actually wants to look like Obama, not just a caricature of a black person. I suppose this would technically make it brown-face, biracial-face, or heavy-dose-of-bronzer face, rather than blackface); and
2) The Barack-impersonator can swear and attest that he a) voted for Obama b) believes Obama was born in the United States c) does not believe he has lost “[his] America” as a result of Obama’s election and is not interested getting said America “back,” and d) has never been inclined to carry a loaded gun to a town hall meeting protesting healthcare reform.
If the person fails the test, I’ll kindly suggest that he wash his face and replace his costume with this (actually, kind of witty) expression of disagreement with the President’s politics.