Monday Open Thread | This is why blackface is offensive

(CNN) It’s been nearly 200 years since white performers first started painting their faces black to mock enslaved Africans in minstrel shows across the United States. It was racist and offensive then, and still is today.

The latest controversy to erupt over blackface is a photo in Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam‘s medical school yearbook. It depicts one person in blackface and another dressed as a member of the Ku Klux Klan. After initially apologizing for appearing in the photo, the Democratic governor now says he is neither the person in blackface nor the person dressed as a Klansman.

However Northam’s case plays out, it’s important for every American to understand what blackface is and why it’s so offensive.

Blackface isn’t just about painting one’s skin darker or putting on a costume. It invokes a racist and painful history.

The origins of blackface date back to the minstrel shows of mid-19th century. White performers darkened their skin with polish and cork, put on tattered clothing and exaggerated their features to look stereotypically “black.” The first minstrel shows mimicked enslaved Africans on Southern plantations, depicting black people as lazy, ignorant, cowardly or hypersexual, according to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC).

The performances were intended to be funny to white audiences. But to the black community, they were demeaning and hurtful.

One of the most popular blackface characters was “Jim Crow,” developed by performer and playwright Thomas Dartmouth Rice. As part of a traveling solo act, Rice wore a burnt-cork blackface mask and raggedy clothing, spoke in stereotypical black vernacular and performed a caricatured song and dance routine that he said he learned from a slave, according to the University of South Florida Library.

Though early minstrel shows started in New York, they quickly spread to audiences in both the North and South. By 1845, minstrel shows spawned their own industry, NMAAHC says.

Its influence extended into the 20th century. Al Jolson performed in blackface in “The Jazz Singer,” a hit film in 1927, and American actors like Shirley Temple, Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney put on blackface in movies too.

The characters were so pervasive that even some black performers put on blackface, historians say. It was the only way they could work — as white audiences weren’t interested in watching black actors do anything but act foolish on stage.

About SouthernGirl2

A Native Texan who adores baby kittens, loves horses, rodeos, pomegranates, & collect Eagles. Enjoys politics, games shows, & dancing to all types of music. Loves discussing and learning about different cultures. A Phi Theta Kappa lifetime member with a passion for Social & Civil Justice.
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63 Responses to Monday Open Thread | This is why blackface is offensive

  1. Ametia says:

    A gif

  2. Ametia says:

    I guess Northam is learning to MOONWALK his lies about blackface and HOODED KKK ROBES

  3. .@SenJeffMerkley For the love of God, put @SecNielsen on the docket at The Hague for crimes against humanity. Stephen Miller too. Trump and every last henchman of his need to be prosecuted. They can’t be allowed to get away with this. It’s so cruel and horrifying.

  4. Ametia says:

    It’s like an ice skating rink outside today. side walks, roads, yards, everywhere

    I.C.E. dangerous, second only to those I.C.E AGENTS

  5. I was working a 4-H booth at the county fair & my youngest got lost from my mother. It was so many people there & my mother was in a state of panic. Luckily my nephew found him & brought him to me & I kept him in the booth with me until my time was up. It was frightening as hell. My mother was so scared. I didn’t know he was lost until my nephew found him and brought him to the booth. Thank God my nephew was there to help. Josh was crying his eyes out. He was so scared too.

  6. rikyrah says:

    Was just talking to a friend about Kristoff St. John. We both noted that he really didn’t begin to age until his son died. He had looked the same for 20 years.

    Far too young…especially when you think that he was an actor in the first Roots!
    He had been in the business pretty much forever.

    May you have found some sense of peace.

  7. .@SpeakerPelosi Don’t let that lying scum to disrespect you in your house. I won’t be watching the fraud who has taken up residence in the Peoples House. I don’t want to see his face or hear his lying mouth. I’ll tune in when @staceyabrams gives her response. #BossYourHouse

  8. Ametia says:

    These MOFOs RIGHT here

  9. White supremacy STOP! Just stop the madness. Reunite those children with their parents, you evil mofos!

  10. NOTHING. I want to hear from a REAL president. He’s not a legitimate president. Let us hear from @SpeakerPelosi because she’s actually running the country right now. Trump and Pence need to be impeached so we can make the Pelosi presidency legal until the 2020 election. So there!

  11. Ametia says:

    Word of the Day : February 4, 2019

    Condone: verb kun-DOHN

    Definition: to regard or treat (something bad or blameworthy) as acceptable, forgivable, or harmless

  12. rikyrah says:

    I’m gonna need all the newly woke folks about ICE now that a rapper has been reported to sit all the way down. While Black folks been in these Twitter streets since Dolt45 and his merry band of racists came in and began these Gestapo tactics….but, since they were doing it to Brown folks and Africans from the contintent, they couldn’t be bothered to follow it. Black folks been out here like Paul Revere, shouting and telling you about ICE, DHS, what they been doing to people at airports, border crossings, and even on busses, but NOW it’s a topic for them cause of this rapper?

    If they don’t get the ENTIRE Phuck Outta Here 😡😡😡

  13. rikyrah says:

    Good Morning, Everyone 😄 😄😄

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