We wanted to take a moment to address blackface and suggest a way to rise out of this controversy more connected and more aware of each other than we were before it started.
The historical purpose of blackface was to dehumanize black people so that the abominable treatment of them was not only palatable, but inevitable, to a broader populace.
At its core, blackface is a purposeful failure to see African Americans as human. This is why it is such a big deal when a celebrity or politician appears in blackface.
To appear in blackface is to announce to the world that black people aren’t fully human to you.
Blackface declares that black people are a joke and were created to be used as the butt of jokes for the amusement of white people. Blackface is a tool for white people to express their supremacy over the rest of the humanity (because they did it to folks of other ethnicities too) – I can denigrate you to your face and you can’t do anything about it. That is what blackface means.
When a person paints his face in blackface it is not out of a desire to look like a black person; it is an effort to make black people into a caricature, a non-entity.
Since blackface is a failure to see the other as human, I want to challenge all of us, including the kids among us, to see their fellow human being. Find a friend who is of a different ethnicity than you are and draw that person’s face.
No one is just one brown or just one pink or just one yellow. We all have undertones of reds, greens, yellows and blues to our skin. We are marvelously rich and layered. We have intrinsic value. And drawing is the perfect way to slow down and look at the face of a person we care about. Highlight the eyes, the smile, whatever features make that person special. Highlight your subject’s intrinsic humanity. It’s the opposite of blackface. It’s the height of respect.
Take the See Me/Draw Me challenge! Post your drawings on social media with the hashtag #SeeMeDrawMe. We can draw light out of the darkness created by the Virginia blackface epidemic. Let’s go!
CNN wrote a brief article giving the history of blackfacehttps://www.cnn.com/2019/02/02/us/racist-origins-of-blackface/index.html HT: LaToya Tucciarone