Why Is This Still Happening: The Prevalence of Blackface in Society Today

By: Grace Hancock

It’s been almost a month since Halloween, but I still find myself thinking back to that weekend, and all the debate around appropriate Halloween costumes. I was proud to see the posters around campus featuring people from different backgrounds holding up photos of Halloween costumes for sale that were perpetuating cultural stereotypes, stating “My Culture Is Not Your Costume” Beyond campus, I started to notice a lot of people posting links on Facebook to articles about inappropriate costumes, especially ones featuring people in blackface. I used to not understand what was so bad about blackface, but upon becoming educated about the issue, I realized the negative connotation.  Blackface represents a culture that only valued African Americans for their entertainment value. It was popularized during minstrel shows in the 1800s, when white people would paint their face black and outline their lips in white. The actors would play the parts of African Americans in a way that poked fun at racial stereotypes, dancing ridiculously and speaking in an uneducated manor. Many actors around the nation played the same rolls, including Zip Coon, Mr. Tambo, and Jim Crow. Now, almost 100 years after the end of this form of entertainment, people are still wearing blackface. I witnessed this phenomenon during the Halloween season.

I saw pictures of multiple people dressed as Trayvon Martin, in blackface and a bloody hoodie. I saw two blonde girls in black face, proclaiming that they were n words for Halloween. Even Celebrities did it. Julianne Hough dressed as Crazy Eyes from Orange is the New Black. Outside of Halloween, I found images from an African themed 21st Birthday party


Why are white people still dressing up in blackface??


This phenomenon proves how uneducated the general public is about historical issues. People do not understand the negative connotation of blackface. They must think it is funny and acceptable, but it is not! Blackface visibly asserts the dominance of white people in America, and perpetuates a culture of white power that started even before the founding of our nation. We need to move forward and not backward in time. Racism is still very much alive, as represented by the fact that a new Associated Press poll uncovered “51% of Americans now express explicit anti-black attitudes, compared with 48% in a similar 2008 survey.” Not only is racism still prevalent, it rose from 2008 to 2012, which is a terrible sign for our nation. People need to become aware of what their actions mean so we can stop pouring salt on the wounds created in America’s past. Ignorance is not bliss; it leads people to be offensive without knowing that they’re doing so. When it comes to Halloween and dressing up, the solution is easy: DO NOT WEAR BLACKFACE…EVER. That does not solve all the problems of racism in the world, but it is start.


Brazile, Donna. “In 2012, Racism’s Tenacious Hold on U.S.” CNN. Cable News Network, 01 Jan. 1970. Web. 28 Nov. 2013. <http://www.cnn.com/2012/11/01/opinion/brazile-race-sununu/&gt;.

“BuzzFeed.” BuzzFeed. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Nov. 2013. <http://www.buzzfeed.com/hnigatu/the-incredibly-offensive-photos-from-an-african-themed-21st&gt;.

“BuzzFeed.” BuzzFeed. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Nov. 2013. <http://www.buzzfeed.com/lyapalater/julianne-hough-wore-blackface-for-her-halloween-costume&gt;.

Dennis, David. “I Shouldn’t Have to Say This in 2013: Blackface Halloween Outfits Aren’t OK.” The Guardian. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Nov. 2013. <http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/oct/30/blackface-halloween-costumes-obviously-offensive&gt;.

“The Minstrel Show.” The Minstrel Show. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Nov. 2013. <http://chnm.gmu.edu/courses/jackson/minstrel/minstrel.html&gt;.










About rowlanda12

This is a blog about the 2012 presidential election. Content is generated by students in Professor Heldman's Politics 101 class. She does not necessarily endorse the views expressed here.
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