Blackface in Hollywood has never been fun. People only admit it now

I’m as tired as blacks of pointing out to whites that you can dress up for Halloween as a black (or brown) celebrity without darkening your skin.

Not even Drake gets a pass.

The rapper faced a firestorm in 2018 after a black-face image of him emerged in 2007, despite his explanation that it was an attempt by him and his then best friend, Sudanese actor Mazin Elsadig, ” to highlight and increase our frustrations with not always getting a fair chance in the industry and noting that the fight for black actors hasn’t changed much. ”
This is because the pain linked to blackface’s legacy is very real and very present to blacks.

While white people may have been tickled for it, the practice of the black face has always been criticized by many blacks.

‘People are finally understanding’

The reckoning on racial injustice has now caused some introspection that recently prompted Jimmy Kimmel to apologize for sketching on blackface and Tina Fey to request episodes of her “30 Rock” series containing scenes with actors on blackface.

Nsenga Burton, a professor of film and media studies at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, told CNN that you would have to be living under a rock to not understand how offensive the black face is to the black community.

“I think people are finally understanding the connection or making the connections between this racism, the symbolism and the images that have been here for over a hundred years with what is happening to blacks in society,” said Burton, who he’s black, and he said Fey is a student at Northwestern University.

“People are finally making that connection based on how extreme violence against blacks has been and are now willing to understand the ways in which these systems of oppression work together and are held together by institutions, including the Hollywood industry,” said. “Entertainment is an institution.”

Minorities, especially black people, have long been the starting point for Hollywood jokes.

The use of the black face began in the mid-19th century, when artists darkened their skin and exaggerated their lips as part of traveling troubadour shows.

The racist public was not interested in seeing blacks perform on stage. But they were entertained by actors made to look like blacks who sang and danced like “the dark ones.”

The practice eventually spread to black actors who would wear makeup to hide their real race from the public. That evolved so that black actors showed their faces, but assumed stereotypical roles using an exaggerated black dialect that was in many ways “vocal black face”.

Vaudeville gave birth to Hollywood, which serves as a microcosm of the world.

Burton noted that the industry “is built on the foundation of white supremacist notion and thought, and was always created to serve and satisfy that perverse need for blacks to be the butt of jokes and normalize power relations.”

“So even though people have very candid conversations about gender and how Hollywood normalized gender relations and representations and that sort of problem, they still weren’t so enthusiastic about admitting that racism is key in Hollywood as well,” she said.

Crisis of conscience?

So pivotal that just last year, Tyler Perry was celebrated for becoming the first black owner and head of a major studio, and even the most successful black artists have had to make decisions about whether to “smile or bear” when it comes to portraying stereotypes. racial if they want to work.
In 2005 Dave Chappelle spoke to Time magazine about why he walked away from his Comedy Central show that year at the height of his success.

He told the publication that the last sketch he had filmed for his show before leaving his series was on “magical goblins who embody stereotypes about races.”

“The black pixie, played by Chappelle, wears a black face and tries to convince blacks to act stereotypically. Chappelle thought the sketch was fun, the kind of thing his friends would laugh at,” said the writer. by Time Chris Farley. “But on the recording, a viewer, a white man, laughed particularly loud and long. His laugh seemed wrong to Chappelle and he wondered if the new season of his show had gone from sending stereotypes to just reinforcing them.”

Chappelle lamented at the time that “When [the White man] he laughed, made me feel uncomfortable “and said he said to himself that he needed to take a timeout” because my head almost exploded “.

He would not return to his career until 12 years later.

Entertainment impact

Actor and writer Allen Maldonado understands that fight.

Best known for his roles as Curtis in the ABC comedy “Black-ish” and Bobby in the TBS comedy “The Last OG” (TBS is owned by the parent company of CNN), Maldonado has also been a writer for “The Last OG “and the Starz series” Survivors Remorse “.

He told CNN that Kimmel and Fey’s movements to reject the black face are important since they are “powerful white influencers” who can use their privilege to help change culture.

And while he said he has been fortunate to work in various writers’ rooms, Maldonado said there needs to be more representation and trust in those they already represent to ensure biased and insulting content doesn’t make it to the screen.

People in power just need to get out of the way, “said Maldonado.” Get out of the way sometimes and really trust the black voices in your room to say ‘Hey this is not cool this is not funny. “They need to add more black, Latin and Asian voices because we all need to come in and have a shared voice in the room when we create entertainment, because entertainment has a huge impact on society and how we see things.”

So as society progresses, so should Tinseltown if there is any hope of turning a moment into a movement.