Friday, March 28, 2014

Tiarah Speaks: Painted Faces, Racism and Exploitation in 2014

I may get the side eye for this but...

A white man dressed in blackface vs. a black man in whiteface. Is it racist or not? It is the year 2014, and while it is clear racism is still alive and well here in the United States, I will have to say that in the case of Nick Cannon and his "white face", it is not racist. Offensive to some? Sure, but not racist. The dictionary definition of a racist is: a person who believes in racism, the doctrine that a certain human race is superior to any or all others. From what we all know about Mr. Canon, is that he's an actor, a rapper, and a comedian. Why is it that "racist behavior" is automatically questioned and associated with this stunt of his?

If this behavior was coming from someone who we knew was a straight up racist, I could understand the label slapping. Even if this was back in the day where racism was in bright full bloom, I could maybe understand the feelings of whites experiencing "reverse racism". But lets be real, we know who clearly thought they were the better race in those times. It wasn't hidden, nobody who was a racist was ashamed of being so, and we have a boatload of history books, and documents that prove who did the most harm against who. With all of that said, I think the intention of his stunt needs to pointed into another direction. Comedy.

While most people may think he's corny, there are clearly those who enjoy his comedic behavior. And the folks who may be offended by what they see, they have to remember what year it is. They have to realize that while no one likes the stereotypes that are floating around, they are still true in some cases (on and off the screen). The Coons, the Jezebels, and even the little Pickinannies are alive and well, just dressed up in different costumes. There seems to be blatant stereotype labels for all non white races, not just Black people, and while it hasn't been broadcasted to the same level, my dear White people, you too have a list of behaviors that are entertaining and tossed into stereotypical boxes. It's just not often that it is openly exploited and benefited from by non whites. Until now.

And maybe this is why there is an outcry from Nick Canon's whiteface stunt? After all, from what I can gather, this is promotion for an album he is releasing called White People Party Music. Given the title I can see why the white face comes into play, and while we haven't heard it yet, I can only wonder what he has in store for folks. While it is clear that racism isn't something that was on his agenda to discuss, his stunt has gotten me to thinking about stereotypes, past and present, and the power of them. Just how much can they effect today's youth, in all races? How much have they changed? And for those who refuse to fall into those stereotype traps, what are we doing to battle them?

What are your thoughts on it?

The piece above is crossposted from her site. Feel free to interact with her on twitter at @tiarahdenise.

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