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Op-Ed: Blackface doesn't always equal racism

By Chuck Thompson     Nov 5, 2009 in Politics
Blackface, when it is used to ridicule or denigrate is certainly racist in my view. However, if it is used in other ways, it is not.
For example, the movie "Black like me" did a good job of causing some people to understand what it was like to be Black in America at one time and hopefully changed the views of some people to be more tolerant of others. There was nothing racist about it.
If a White couple wanted to portray the President and First Lady at a costume party, would it be racist for them to go made up to look Black? If your answer is "yes", how do you justify it? If they went without make-up and hung signs around their necks identifying themselves as the President and First Lady wouldn't it be denying the "Blackness" of the First Couple? In my view, not acknowledging that they are Black (by portraying them as Black) would be racist. Are costumes portraying Black people now off-limits to people of other races? Isn't that the attitude of those who say that any criticism of President Obama comes from a racist perspective? Objectively think about that for a minute.
Currently there is a huge flap in Dallas over a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader, Whitney Isleib, who attended a Halloween Party dressed, and made up, as the celebrity lil' Wayne. Unless she was trying to ridicule him because he is Black, I don't see the big deal. In one of the photos she is seen posing with two Black women. (At least I think they were Black - maybe they were in "blackface" too.) The two Black women don't look uncomfortable in the photo and I would think that if she was exhibiting some sort of racism they wouldn't have posed with her. And if they thought her "costume" was racist and they went along with it, wouldn't they be "traitors to their race?" One could say that she was promoting lil' Wayne and his music. After all, "imitation is the sincerest of flattery."
I do see it as a big deal that people are trying to make it into something about race and calling for her head. I do see it as a big deal that the media are trumpeting it as though it were racist. I do see it as a big deal that there are those in our society who are always ready to throw the race card. All of those things promote divisiveness between the races. And isn't that, in itself, racist?
And, for all you offended people, read Urban Sports Talk and Entertainment to see the views of some actual Black people on this subject.
In order to be fair, I think I should also give you this site written by a [i]charming and open-minded[/i] woman.
Read more on racism.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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