We ran an article earlier about singer Nick Cannon’s Instagram pic showing him in “whiteface” – wearing makeup to depict himself as a white man – accompanied by several racially stereotypical hashtags. Discussion has raged about Cannon’s stunt, which was intended to promote his new alum “White People Party Music”. (Check out that article, and join the discussion.)
One of the more common comments left in discussions about Cannon’s stunt has to do with whether there is a double standard for “whiteface” versus “blackface” – the act of painting a white person to look black. Some say that there should be just as much outrage over Cannon’s picture as there was over some of the Trayvon Martin blackface costumes last Halloween, for example. Either that, or no outrage over either.
Several people have pointed to Robert Downey, Jr.’s role in Tropic Thunder as a “blackface” role. But there is almost some irony that Downey’s character lectures another about the pitfalls of “going full retard” as an actor. Downey never went “full black” in his role. He did not play a black man. He played a white man in blackface. As a result, there was little real controversy around him for that.
Some folks have mentioned Julianne Hough not being able to do blackface. This refers to the Dancing With the Stars’ celeb’s costume last Halloween where she went as a character from “Orange Is the New Black.”
The Racism Tumblr has a response to these questions. According to their site, blackface and whiteface actions are in no way comparable, for the following reasons (a partial list):
* Started at a time when Black people were considered “Less than human”
* Shows Black people have no and deserve no dignity
* Used to de-humanize, belittle and make fun of those that are “Less than”
* Originally done by white people for white people
* Originally done by white people in white only establishments
* Done while white people are in power
* Unable to dehumanize because the power holders lose nothing (Dignity, power, ect [sic])
* Has been done to show PRIVILEGE not to show that they are “Less than.” Think about the EXACT “Stereotypes” being placed on white people while actors have done white face.
* Has no historical relevance
* If a white person’s feelings were hurt by white face, they wake up the next day and no one will judge THEM by what they saw. Black people were (and still are) BELIEVED to be these caricatures.
Do you think this line of reasoning is sound?
Does the fact that Cannon also included hashtags like “#GoodCredit #DogKissing #BeerPong #FarmersMarkets” make a difference?
What about his calling his whiteface character “Connor Smallnut”?
Let us know in the comments.
Image via YouTube