Dear Everyone, Blackface Is Not OK
Nowadays, the term blackface keeps cropping up into the news cycle, be it in the form of ‘snatched’ makeup looks being misinterpreted or celebrities and major fashion labels releasing ‘questionable’ products.
#ICYMI: Blackface is an incredibly sensitive topic which stems from a seriously hurtful history of racism. It was mainly used by entertainment industries in western countries to caricature and stereotype black people.
It dates back to 1893 at New York’s minstrel show, where white actors would mimic and make fun of black slaves on southern plantations. So you get why the black society would get so enraged whenever lighter skinned people misappropriate this look and call it art or pass it off as a joke. Because it did, in fact, started off as a joke which went way too far.
Then, there’s blackamoor art which objectifies African people and reduce them to the size of their lips and complexion shade. Sadly, although it may be done in the name of art — some elites keep Blackamoor collections as a sign of status and power, if not to showcase their wealth. Kinda like collecting slaves, but in the form of artworks, figurines or jewellery pieces.
Blackamoor art is basically the blackface of European art and it is still a thriving industry, with the United States as their #1 importer. In fact, if you search “Blackamoor” online, you’ll find countless listings on eBay, Etsy and elsewhere.
Just last week, an Asian makeup artist went viral on social media after posting her transformation beauty tutorial on Tik Tok. In the video, she used a foundation shade which is probably five times darker than her original skin tone and people were not happy with the results.
One user commented, “She put on dark makeup that punched up her, uh, lacking features then put on decidedly not straight hair. This is exploitation.” While another user expressed his disappointment, “Everybody want to be black but don’t want the treatment that comes with it..”
Is This Blackface? Asian Makeup Artist Transforms Her Face And Could Likely Pass For Black pic.twitter.com/54L1WScLCP
— Atlanta Black Star (@ATLBlackStar) February 15, 2019
On another note, Black History Month is celebrated between 1st to 28th February, so you’d think that people would actually be more sensitive towards things that could spark outrage among the black community. Unfortunately, the fashion industry still need time to get cultured because there were a lot of blackface representations found in the latest collections of high-end brands.
Katy Perry was recently forced to pull a selection of shoes that some called blackface, a week after Gucci released a black jumper that stretched up to cover the person’s mouth. Meanwhile, Prada featured a toy-chain which resembles blackamoor art.
One user commented, “I guess during Black History Month, they wanted to remind us of the history of black people in America. SMH.”
Busy fashion month….
Burberry – Noose Hoodie
Gucci – Blackface Turtleneck
Moncler – Blackface Bubble Jacket
Prada – Blackface Purse Decorations
Katy Perry Collection – Blackface Heels pic.twitter.com/XGa9Ck9hVc
— 24/7 Hip Hop News (@BenjaminEnfield) February 19, 2019
Remember when Astro did a parody on Yuna’s song with Usher and featured the male host (who is supposed to represent Usher) in blackface? Not cool. And the worst part is, when the singer released this statement below, some netizens quickly defended the parody by saying that Yuna is being too sensitive and that she should take a chill pill.
The fact is, we live in a global village today, whether we realize it or not. So even if there are massive, global movements like the diversity movement and other ‘woke’ movements around — if we’re not willing to take the initiative to educate ourselves with what’s right and what’s not, then how can we change this mindset?