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Blackface - Whiteface

Poll: Blackface - Whiteface (3 member(s) have cast votes)

Scenario 1: An unmarried (hetero) couple decide to go to a Hallowe'en ball dressed as Kirk and Uhura. He is black and she is white and they wear appropriate make-up to effect the change (white/blackface). Which of them, if any, is acting in a racis...

  1. Neither (3 votes [100.00%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 100.00%

  2. Only the white woman (0 votes [0.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 0.00%

  3. Only the black man (0 votes [0.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 0.00%

  4. Both (0 votes [0.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 0.00%

  5. It is a stupid question - no black man would agree to this. (0 votes [0.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 0.00%

Scenario 2: A married (gay) couple decide to go to a fancy dress party with mostly gay guests. One is white and goes as Stevie Wonder, the other black and dresses as Paul McCartney. Which of them, if any, is acting in a racist way?

  1. Neither (3 votes [100.00%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 100.00%

  2. Only the white man (0 votes [0.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 0.00%

  3. Only the black man (0 votes [0.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 0.00%

  4. Both (0 votes [0.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 0.00%

  5. It is a stupid question - no black man would agree to this. (0 votes [0.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 0.00%

Which of these was relevant to your thoughts on the matter? (select as many as apply and feel free to comment when the reason is different from the example given)

  1. The racial origin of the person (eg there is no history of white face being offensive so it is treated differently from black face) (2 votes [50.00%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 50.00%

  2. The gender of the person (eg the minstrel shows featured only males in black face make-up so the female version is less offensive) (0 votes [0.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 0.00%

  3. The marital status (eg if a couple are married it is clear that the outfit is not being used in a racist way, whereas this is not true for an unmarried couple) (0 votes [0.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 0.00%

  4. The sexual orientation (eg there is a long tradition in gay culture of dressing up and black/white face is less offensive in this context) (0 votes [0.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 0.00%

  5. The type of occasion (eg there is more leeway at a private party then a public Hallowe'en ball) (2 votes [50.00%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 50.00%

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#1 User is offline   Zelandakh 

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Posted 2019-February-14, 03:56

A quick and dirty poll.
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#2 User is offline   hrothgar 

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Posted 2019-February-14, 04:11

View PostZelandakh, on 2019-February-14, 03:56, said:

A quick and dirty poll.


You're polling a bunch of old white people to get their opinion about blackface???
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#3 User is offline   Cyberyeti 

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Posted 2019-February-14, 04:58

I don't see any of it as racist, blackface to me is offensive when it's a general caricature rather than an attempt to look like a particular black person.
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#4 User is offline   Elianna 

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Posted 2019-February-14, 06:51

One of the big differences is that in first, you said that they were wearing makeup to change skin color, and in the second, you said "dressed", which to me implies just wore clothes. If that's what you meant, one of your options on the third poll would be about the use of makeup, because that's literally "blackface".

I also am not sure of your purpose of the poll. Are you trying to get a definitive answer, or just the temperature of the water cooler? I didn't answer your poll, but if it's not clear what my opinion is, I'm going to quote Winstonm in the APTT:

Quote

If a white man wanted to pay homage to someone of color, he would not need to paint his face. Painting the face is an emphasis on color. A white man dressed in a tight sequined suit, sequined glove on one hand, wearing a hat and doing the moon walk would certainly honor Michael Jackson's contributions to music and entertainment without emphasizing the difference in his skin color.

I cannot emphasize this enough - skin color is irrelevant. We are all equally human.

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#5 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2019-February-14, 10:11

View PostCyberyeti, on 2019-February-14, 04:58, said:

I don't see any of it as racist, blackface to me is offensive when it's a general caricature rather than an attempt to look like a particular black person.

That's the point I was making in my post in the Trump thread. And I answered the poll accordingly.

But I also understand that this attitude is not PC in the current climate. While I don't personally consider the white-as-black person to be racist, I do know that it would be considered inappropriate these days.

And in no case is the black-as-white portrayal a problem. White people do not have a history of discrimination against them, we don't need any protection.

#6 User is offline   awm 

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Posted 2019-February-14, 10:48

The problem is that you seem to be trying to derive things from first principles, when it’s mostly about history. Some more examples:

Comparing Obama to a monkey was racist but comparing Trump to a monkey was not. Why? Long history in the US of comparing black people to monkeys to dehumanize them and justify slavery.

Dressing up in white robes and hood? Racist because people have historicallly donned this outfit and gone out to terrorize minorities.

Blackface for white folks? Racist, because people have historically done this as a way to mock and belittle blacks.

It is of course possible to be oblivious to this history. Some people in Zürich like to dress up as native Americans for parades. To Americans this seems like a racist example of cultural appropriation because there’s some history in the US of white folks dressing up like this and acting out to emphasize how “savage” or “violent” the natives supposedly are. But the Swiss don’t have this history and don’t mean it this way — there are also people wearing Lederhosen in the same parade and there’s no malicious intent. No Nazi uniforms though — they’d be just as horrified to see that as any American, if not more so.

The point is that these things are very dependent on history and to some degree intent. Dressing up as a black celebrity is fine. Painting your face black is racist because of history. That’s not to say that everyone knows this or intends it that way.
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#7 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2019-February-14, 12:21

View Postbarmar, on 2019-February-14, 10:11, said:

That's the point I was making in my post in the Trump thread. And I answered the poll accordingly.

But I also understand that this attitude is not PC in the current climate. While I don't personally consider the white-as-black person to be racist, I do know that it would be considered inappropriate these days.

And in no case is the black-as-white portrayal a problem. White people do not have a history of discrimination against them, we don't need any protection.


If it were as simple as "discrimination", it wouldn't be so appalling. Perhaps many are too young to remember or know about things like this:

Quote

On the afternoon of July 25, 1946, a white mob ambushed two black men and their wives in Walton County, Ga. The two couples were pulled from a car, beaten, tortured and fatally shot. Their skulls were cracked, their flesh was torn and their limbs were shredded.

The bodies of George W. Dorsey and his wife, Mae Murray Dorsey, and Roger Malcolm and his wife, Dorothy Malcolm, were left hanging near the Moore’s Ford wooden bridge over the Apalachee River, according to court records.....Bell said the men were bound by rope. George Dorsey, a distinguished veteran who had served in World War II in the Pacific and North Africa, had just returned home to Georgia nine months before the slaying. “The coroner’s report indicates his wife, Mae, was 24 at the time she suffered death by violence,” (attorney) Bell said. “The other gentleman, Roger Malcolm, received a shotgun blast to the face. His wife sustained ghastly wounds and was also assassinated. The victims were shot multiple times with pistols and shotguns. There were gaping wounds, and their flesh was shredded.”


Recently unsealed Grand Jury testimony and still no one tried or convicted.

Or this:

Quote

The lynching of Michael Donald in Mobile, Alabama in 1981 was one of the last lynchings in the United States. Several Ku Klux Klan (KKK) members beat and killed Michael Donald, a young African-American man, and hung his body from a tree.


So, just to get this straight, when we, as white people, smilingly put on black face - no matter the reason - we are codoning the very racial emnity that was the root cause of such abhorent acts.

Just as white supremacy was portrayed in the movie Mississippi Burning, the message of blackface is "I'm better because at least I'm not really black". My response? No, you're not. Not black and definitely not better.
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#8 User is online   PassedOut 

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Posted 2019-February-14, 13:21

People freely use the term "terrorism" these days. As Winston points out, real terrorism was a fact of life for African-Americans for many, many years, and some of the terrorists still live in the US unpunished. I just don't see "the funny side of terrorism" at all.
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#9 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2019-February-15, 18:44

Winston and Adam described the historical context I was trying to refer to, but much more eloquently. As a suburban white male, I've not had personal experience with racism, and I just lumped the entire gamut into the word "discrimination". Of course, it's really about the history of violence towards and demeaning of blacks, not just practices like whites-only restaurants, restrooms, busses, and water fountains. Those were just the most visible, overt practices.

#10 User is offline   Cyberyeti 

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Posted 2019-February-16, 09:56

View Postbarmar, on 2019-February-15, 18:44, said:

Winston and Adam described the historical context I was trying to refer to, but much more eloquently. As a suburban white male, I've not had personal experience with racism, and I just lumped the entire gamut into the word "discrimination". Of course, it's really about the history of violence towards and demeaning of blacks, not just practices like whites-only restaurants, restrooms, busses, and water fountains. Those were just the most visible, overt practices.


But don't assume suburban white people as I am have not had experience of racism, I've been racially abused before.
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#11 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2019-February-16, 10:47

View PostCyberyeti, on 2019-February-16, 09:56, said:

But don't assume suburban white people as I am have not had experience of racism, I've been racially abused before.


Does that include a history of people like yourself being mob tortured, shot, stabbed, mutilated, and hanged for no other reason but skin color? I doubt as a white person you've experienced that type of racism.

FWIW, I live in Tulsa, OK, and I've experienced what I believe you are talking about - kind of an anti-white resentment attitude - but it never strikes me as racism but as a response to the history of this area.(Tulsa Race Massacre) In other words, I totally understand why I am viewed as a potential enemy.

Quote

Believed to be the single worst incident of racial violence in American history, the bloody 1921 outbreak in Tulsa has continued to haunt Oklahomans. During the course of eighteen terrible hours on May 31 and June 1, 1921, more than one thousand homes and businesses were destroyed, while credible estimates of deaths range from fifty to three hundred. By the time the violence ended, the city had been placed under martial law, thousands of Tulsans were being held under armed guard, and the state's second-largest African American community had been burned to the ground.


I hope by your post you weren't trying to compare your experiences as equivalent. To me, pleading a reduction of white privilege doesn't count as racism.
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#12 User is offline   Cyberyeti 

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Posted 2019-February-16, 12:04

View PostWinstonm, on 2019-February-16, 10:47, said:

Does that include a history of people like yourself being mob tortured, shot, stabbed, mutilated, and hanged for no other reason but skin color? I doubt as a white person you've experienced that type of racism.

FWIW, I live in Tulsa, OK, and I've experienced what I believe you are talking about - kind of an anti-white resentment attitude - but it never strikes me as racism but as a response to the history of this area.(Tulsa Race Massacre) In other words, I totally understand why I am viewed as a potential enemy.



I hope by your post you weren't trying to compare your experiences as equivalent. To me, pleading a reduction of white privilege doesn't count as racism.


Nope, having a mob of far left students and hearing the words "get the £$%^ing yid" then getting mildly physically abused. I have also had a relative who was killed in Israel basically for being Jewish.

For the record I'm an atheist of Jewish roots and was at the time, but was besically stereotyped as a white man with a big beard by the mob.
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#13 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2019-February-16, 12:07

View PostCyberyeti, on 2019-February-16, 12:04, said:

Nope, having a mob of far left students and hearing the words "get the £$%^ing yid" then getting mildly physically abused. I have also had a relative who was killed in Israel basically for being Jewish.

For the record I'm an atheist of Jewish roots and was at the time, but was besically stereotyped as a white man with a big beard by the mob.


Thanks. I suspected your post had information left unsaid.
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#14 User is offline   kenberg 

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Posted 2019-February-16, 13:40

I haven't answered the poll but I will comment.

I am a white male married to a white female but if I were married to a black female and we decided to go to a party, me in blackface and her in whiteface, surely it would be some sort of sendup of something. The fact is that I wouldn't do it. But if I did, it would be some perhaps lame attempt to ridicule those who use blackface thinking that it's clever or whatever it is that they think..

Intent matters, although probably even with the best of intent a person should think at least twice. I looked up a NYT article that discussed the Fred Astaire tribute to Bojangles in Swing Time. Indeed they saw it as a tribute, and I see it that way too, but still I wouldn't do it.

As a child I saw various Charlie Chan movies featuring Warner Roland . Go figure. But at least he was portrayed as a smart investigator. He has his number 1 son and his number 2 son, and I am pretty sure that in at least some episodes he had a black chauffeur or something like that. These portrayals were not so favorable, especially the black role. Maybe I am just making this up, but I recall being offended even as an 9 year old.

Anyway, anyone with half a brain can see why such things are offensive. And if that isn't reason enough, surely it won't do your career any good.

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#15 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2019-February-19, 10:33

View PostCyberyeti, on 2019-February-16, 12:04, said:

Nope, having a mob of far left students and hearing the words "get the £$%^ing yid" then getting mildly physically abused. I have also had a relative who was killed in Israel basically for being Jewish.

For the record I'm an atheist of Jewish roots and was at the time, but was besically stereotyped as a white man with a big beard by the mob.

I've also been lucky that I've never experienced anti-semitism, either. When I was a baby my family moved from a Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn to a suburban town that was also heavily Jewish. I think I only had one Christian friend when I was growing up (for much of my childhood I thought Catholic == Christian). AFAIR, we didn't ostracize him in any way, it was just more of a curiosity.

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