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article imageFashion Beyonce appears in ‘blackface’ for French magazine

By William Charles Baker     Feb 23, 2011 in World
A disturbing new trend in fashion that brings back the early days of vaudeville and clandestine racial hatred has reemerged in the chic trend for models in “blackface”.
Singer, actress and entertainer Beyonce Knowles has received criticism for her appearance on the March cover of L’Officiel Paris in the old stereotype accentuated by faces painted to look black. After many years of attempts to distance programs, movies and TV programs from the images now a major star has rekindled and old problem.
The UniversityofArizona reports: “Although it existed before the advent of Vaudeville, blackface minstrelsy played a major part in the song, dance, and comedy acts and routines that Vaudeville promoted and popularized. Prior to and during Vaudeville blackface minstrelsy generally entertained audiences at the expense of those it ridiculed.”
According to the magazine it was an attempt to pay tribute to Fela Kuti the Nigerian human rights activist. Beyonces husband and musical rapper Jay-Z is a producer of the Broadway musical “Fela!” based on Kuti’s life. The appearance of Beyonce in blackface to honor Kuti has raised questions as to why such a controversial and disliked way to approach the tribute.
The AtlantaPost reports: “Nevertheless, Beyonce is just the tip of the black-faced iceberg since designers throughout the fashion world have taken the potentially racist symbol and turned it into the hottest thing on and off the catwalk. French Vogue was among the first to initiate the blackface trend when they featured a 14 page editorial of Dutch model Lara Stone in blackface. Not to be outdone, Paris-based Mongolian designer Tsolmandakh Munkhuu photographed her models in black paint from head to toe for the Hyères International Festival of Fashion and Photography.”
In spite of the criticism many expressed approval from the point of view that it was fashion and not meant to be derogatory of those with African roots.
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