Why is Blackface so offensive?


The scandal surrounding Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau after a photo was published of a yearbook that shows him in a blackface at a costume party in 2001 is bringing attention to a practice that scholars say the whites have been doing for years to belittle the Latins and other minorities.

In the photo, then 29-year-old Trudeau wears a turban and a robe, with dark brown makeup on his hands, face and neck.

Like US governors in Virginia and Mississippi who apologized for wearing the black face years before entering politics, Trudeau, who also said he was sorry, is facing the political crisis of his career.

The practice of members of a dominant population that darkens the skin with makeup strengthens racial stereotypes and reduces Latin Americans, Native Americans, African Americans and others based on exaggerated skin tones and physical characteristics, social scientists say.

Here we take a look at how whites used makeup to darken their complexion throughout history and lately to portray or mock members of racial minority groups:


The works of William Shakespeare featured several minority characters, but in the early days of their adaptations – and in the modern era – they were played by white male actors. These artists wore blackface or brownface to play Otello, a Moro, in Othello and dark face makeup to represent the Caliban natives The Storm.

In the nineteenth-century America, performer Thomas Dartmouth Rice popularized the minstrel by wearing the black face and adopting what he thought was a vulgar African American.

Other artists have imitated Rice and used the blackface and stereotypes of African Americans to create one of the most popular art forms in the nation's history, despite protests from black intellectuals and activists.

Blackface would influence the way whites would paint other ethnic groups in the United States. Hollywood would continue to allow white actors to make up in a racist fashion to play black, Latin, and Asian American characters during the 20th century instead of using black actors.

In 1951 film adaptation of Othello, the white actor-director Orson Welles wore the bronze make-up in his portrait of Othello.

Charlton Heston wore a brown face to play the Mexican military order officer Ramon Vargas in the 1958 film Touch of evil.


In 2012, an advertisement for Popchips with Ashton Kutcher in brownface and using an exaggerated Indian accent was pulled after a protest by American Indians.

But the images of blackface and brownface are not only found in the United States and have appeared in media around the world.

The producer of a British documentary on Muslims was criticized in 2017 for putting a white woman in a brown face to immerse her in the life of a Pakistani Muslim family in Manchester, England.

The documentary My Week as a Muslim forced Katie Freeman to darken the skin, wear false teeth and wear brown contact lenses.

At the beginning of this year, the Italian airline Alitalia published an advertisement that promoted flights to Washington, in which an actor in a black version played the former president Barack Obama.

In Singapore, a recent e-payment announcement with a Chinese brownface comedian has sparked criticism among some ethnic and Malaysian Indians. The company and the creative agency later apologized.


A leading television station in Peru was fined $ 26,000 for airing the popular comedian Negro Mama in an entertainment show in 2013.

The character is played by Jorge Benavides, who wears a black face, exaggerated lips and a bright nose.

At the beginning of this year, a Mexican television network character based in Mexico faced severe criticism after disguising himself in a brown face and wearing a prosthetic nose to tease the indigenous Mexican actress Yalitza Aparicio.

Televisa subsequently deleted a tweet of a video of the television personality in brown that imitates Aparicio, who participated in the Oscars after being nominated as best actress.

The New York Times reported in August that a private channel in Libya was focused at the beginning of this year following a comedy skit in which an actress in blackface tells passengers about "Look at my children!"

When passengers pull back a cart cover, the monkeys jump out. Activists claim that the scene was an example of racist stereotypes that are regularly seen in Arab comedy.

In 2009, the Nove Network was focused on a segment of a special meeting of Hey Hey It's Saturday, completed in 1999, with a comedy music company called Jackson Jive.

The skit, which featured five blackface performers and one sixth – which was to be Michael Jackson – in whiteface, forced the excuses broadcast by host Daryl Somers after the American crooner Harry Connick Jr., who was a guest of the show, took the Offense marked the act zero.

He said that if it had been performed on American television, the broadcast would have been interrupted.


Every year, in the Netherlands, clashes break out to help the Dutch version of Santa Claus.

Known as Black Pete, the character is played by whites in black faces during children's events.

The tensions come when the Dutch children anticipate the arrival of the version of Santa Claus of their country, which sees Black Pete as protagonists.

Whites often smear their faces with black paint when they dress up to play the character. Opponents claim that Black Pete's annual recreations promote racist stereotypes.

Throughout American history, whites wore redfaces, wore fringes and feathers and spoke in broken English while "playing" or playing Native Americans.

But almost every week during the football season, fans paint "red" in honor of their native American mascot names like the Washington Redskins.

Native American activists responded with protests and a #notyourmascot social media campaign.

In 2014, the then president of the University of Louisville, James Ramsey, apologized after the Courier-Journal he published a photo of him and the staff with fake mustaches, mantilla veils and sombreros. It was not clear if the photo was related to the annual Hispanic campus month.

With news.com.au



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