Black Twitter is sorely upset about a viral TikTok video in which a White woman is seen peeling off a Black prosthesis that made her resemble South Africa’s Nomcebo of ‘Jerusalema’ fame. Many social media users claim this is wrong on all levels.
The entire music show on a Bulgarian TV called Kato 2 Kapki Voda has people dressing up and transforming themselves into various artistes and then go on stage to perform their music. Now, this is an extreme form of any musical show that I have seen.
In their defense, the contestants do transform into Black artistes only. On their Instagram page, one can see the host of impersonations from Justin Timberlake, Dua Lipa to Britney Spears and Fran Sinatra.
Still, it is 2021 and the world is fighting to get back on its feet as it fights the deadly coronavirus pandemic. Why would anyone think a Blackface or an entire transformation into another race for ratings on a TV is right?
It is worrying that the producers of this TV show still thought it was okay to keep on filming such insensitive content for public consumption.
The list of impersonations goes on and on and the show’s producers have apologized on TikTok but Black Twitter is angered by it and the comments tell it all.
One Twitter user said, “like this is genuine entertainment for them? It is disgusting.”
Another said, “This is so disgusting, we already know you want to be us but to have to go to that extent shiish that’s some deep mental or insecurity issues right there. And for everyone else in the crowd dancing must be some serious idiots. In fact, this is hilarious.”
“This happens a lot throughout Europe sadly. I lived in Portugal and watched a lot of singing or entertainment shows where they would do this. Unfortunately, racism and things like the black face do not sit the same way it does in North America,” a Twitter user said.
Some were of the view that organizers should let people who already have that skin tone take on such performances. “Like why not just hire black performers instead of blowing money and putting the person/ production at risk for blackfacing in 2021,” a Twitter user wrote.
Blackface grew out of Minstrel shows starting in the 1830s, according to a brief on the subject on BET. The act involved White actors darkening their faces with shoe polish or greasepaint, painting exaggerated red lips with makeup, and acting out stereotypically dumb, foolish, or dangerous Black characters – that is the “happy darky on the plantation” or the “dandified coon”. The larger purpose of these shows was to entertain white slave owners, who were humored by acts mocking slaves and free Blacks during the 19th century.
From the small stage, blackface made its way to the big screen where some performers like Bert Williams, Al Jolson, and Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll, who created “Amos N’ Andy” made it widely popular. These White men also performed in “dialect” or ‘African American English’.
Minstrelsy was at its height between 1830 and 1890. Even in the late 19th century when black artists were finally allowed to perform publicly, they had to wear blackface no matter their hue and had to reenact stereotypes of their time (some did find ways to subvert this).
Blackface only went out of vogue during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. But by then, it had already caught wind around the world, especially in many Asian and European countries where actors still put on the face to perform.
In the U.S., wearing blackface is almost sacrilege. It is met with great criticism because it hearkens to a painful past of slavery, segregation – Jim Crow, and discrimination for Black people. It reinforces stereotypes about Black people that are not true.
White college students in the U.S. are especially warned to not wear blackface on occasions like Halloween.