High School Blackface Skit: Who Are the Real Minstrels?
The Root DC's Clinton Yates writes that he won't spend time worrying about the recent incident in which students in blackface re-enacted a violent episode between Chris Brown and Rihanna because "there are just as many people out here representing us poorly without their faces painted."
The examples are just too prevalent. Recently, reports surfaced of students in Waverly, N.Y., performing a skit during a pep rally that featured students in crude blackface, reenacting a 2009 incident in which Chris Brown was accused of beating up his then girlfriend Rihanna. Yes, you read that correctly. Not only did these kids break out racist costumes for their little number, the number was specifically "satirizing" violence against women. Doubly offensive ...
The ironic thing is, the biggest offenders of this sort of behavior these days are, in fact, black.
Turn on your television and look at the reality shows. Turn on the radioand listen to the lyrics of hip-hop and R & B songs. Heck, go to churchand see what comes out of some folks' mouths. As much as I shake my head at a group of misguided kids painting their faces in upstate New York, part of me is glad that's all some people think it takes to make fun of us. Truth is, it doesn't even take that much work.
Why should I be mad at white folks for blackface skits when we can be the biggest minstrels? Maybe we should look at how we present ourselves as critically as we do others who pantomime us. That doesn't give them a pass, but let's be real about what really matters.
That's not to say that I don't understand the historical antecedents. Back when it was in fashion, it was part of an overall systematic culture of keeping black people out of performing jobs and undermining us as a people.
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