As we continue our series on blackface, we held a roundtable on the controversial topic. We had seven people from different backgrounds, races and ages view our ‘Facing Blackface’ series.
Takuna El Shabazz is the President of the Conscious Council of Black Elders. His goal is to educate a younger generation on black history. “They used blackface to entertain when they were hanging black people so I care less how well they look, how good they sound,” said El Shabazz. El Shabazz said it doesn’t matter how you view blackface. He said it is unacceptable for white person to put on dark make-up to look like a black person. Other people agreed. “I find it insulting that a white person would utilize his white privilege to use blackface,” said Frederick Prejean, Move the Mindset President. Amos Washington, a former teacher, felt the same, “It was just awful. There’s no way to explain it other than that and right now that stuff is starting to resurface again and I’m concerned about it. It’s serious. “
It was tough for a younger generation of black and white people to watch clips of minstrel shows from the 1800’s. “It was kind of hurtful to know my people were portrayed in such a derogatory way and I think anyone who knows that culture or that history today would simply not do it, “said Rain Augustine. Kaylin King said as someone who is Caucasian, it was eye-opening to see watch, “It was disgusting to see that, to see African-Americans people portrayed as laughable, like a jester.”
When asked for opinions on the Edwards Twins, the two Caucasian brothers who sometimes wear darker make-up to portray African-American entertainers, the responses were mixed, “I perceive it as entertainment,” said Sharlee Jacobs. The President of the Lafayette NAACP Chapter Marja Broussard agreed, “I do perceive it different, but I do understand what they’re saying. I personally don’t see what they’re doing as blackface because it’s not in a negative light but at the same time I understand the connection.” El Shabazz felt differently,”There’s no way these white entertainers can claim no harm, no foul, and innocence. No way not given the historical reality of what the menstrual show meant to black people.”
While minstrel shows were popular in the early 19th century, blackface has been a hot topic in media lately with Megyn Kelly fired over blackface comments, Virginia Governor in hot water for a resurfaced photo showing him blackface and Gucci apologized for blackface sweater. Jacobs said people just have to stop giving it attention, “ I say if we do what we used to do. If we boycott it. We don’t give it the attention that it’s craving. It goes away.”