Blackface masks were used as a popular form of entertainment in the minstrel theaters during the 19th and 20th century. The idea was that people of one race pretended to be another. In films, black characters were role played by white people in black facemasks. A majority of the white race that imitated black characters consisted of white Irish people that wanted to fit in and be accepted by society. The masks of the black people portrayed in films like, “The Jazz Singer” were very racist and stereotypical images depicting black people as almost animalistic.
While most people in our culture today believe the concept of blackface is highly offensive, some people such as celebrity icon Julianne Hough continue to condone its practices. On Halloween of 2014 this famous celebrity made a fashion statement that was very controversial and offended a lot of people of the black community. In the image above, she is seen dressed as the African American girl from the television show “Orange is the new Black”. Hough painted her skin to match the characters and make herself look black. She claimed she didn’t intentionally mean to be racist or offend anyone by painting on her skin color. Her actions took to the media like wildfire and raised a lot of comments from fans.
Why do you think celebrities like Hough continue to use the concept of blackface in our culture today? Is there ever going to be an end to the skewed racist images and attitudes toward popularizing black culture?