To think 'blacking up' isn't necessarily racist?

(298 Posts)
Fabuloo Wed 02-Jan-13 20:29:14

Apologies in advance for the Daily Mail link....

this article

I think it's more to do with the intention behind it rather than the 'act'. DD is mixed race and sometimes dresses up in a blonde wig and in the past has put my make up on. My DS is blonde and fair and I would have no problem if he wanted to do the same in reverse. I do feel people need to get a grip...

NoLittle - The last couple of professional revivals of The King & I would only have genuine performers from the relevent parts of Asia. Why do the amateurs not have to conform?

Fabuloo Thu 03-Jan-13 11:50:41

I refuse to pass residual racial guilt onto my children, when the only part they have played is to be born.
I will not have them judged by the colour of their skin purely through the actions of others who happen to have the same skin colour.

That goes both ways.

NolittleBuddahsorTigerMomshere Thu 03-Jan-13 11:51:51

That's your opinion Fab, and you are entiled to it. My opinion, which is motivated by the fact I am a lifelong wheelchair user, who is a bit of a 'funny shape' as a result of my condition, is that our society is too fixiated on the physical. As I said above, I would prefer if DC's were taught to respect and acquire admirable skills and personality traits rather than physical ones. I am entitled to my opinion too.

Fabuloo Thu 03-Jan-13 11:52:41

VoiceofUnreason - I think most of the cast of Anna & The King were Chinese, and not actually Thai (if I remember correctly).

Pendeen Thu 03-Jan-13 11:53:16

Quite agree with you OP.

I would have more of a problem with the shaving of a 10 year old's head and hero-worshipping an overpaid sportsman.

ComposHat Thu 03-Jan-13 11:53:40

No act is offensive in itself, so blacking up per se isn't racist. It depends on the context and motivation of the person committing it. So for example an actor in a TV series about the Nazis giving the zeig heil salute isn't racist, whilst a crowd of thugs outside a shop run by a Jewish family making the same gesture to humiliate, belittle and frighten someone almost undoubtedly are.

This kid and I assume his father did not do this to cause offence or belittle anyone it was (an admittedly cack-handed) tribute to a favourite footballer, who along with his colleagues took it as a homage. I wonder if we have the 'right to get offended on his behalf, over a gesture he seemed happy with.

'The boy would have been utterly unaware of any historical undertones to blacking up and it is possible that his father wasn't either or at least didn't think it through. As a long term football fan, I can remember black players getting routinely booed and having bananas pelted at them, with Leeds Utd being a particular hotbed of racism. So in a roundabout way so it is kind of touching that white kids idolise and want to emulate black players.

Fabuloo Thu 03-Jan-13 11:54:11

NolittleBuddahsorTigerMomshere - Absolutely, I can understand your point of view and I do actually agree with you.

NolittleBuddahsorTigerMomshere Thu 03-Jan-13 11:56:00

Voice, I don't really get your question, not meaning in a PA way. If an amdram group can formulate such a cast, then great, but not many would manage, so if that is not possible, I don't see why physical characteristics, which aren't there need to be referenced.

Jins Thu 03-Jan-13 11:56:37

What tethersjinglebellend said

KRITIQ Thu 03-Jan-13 12:06:08

People can say and do things that are hurtful to other people, even when they don't realise it's hurtful.

Not surprisingly, children often do this because they are learning about stuff all the time. It's important for adults to help them make sense of things - including to explain to them how their words and actions might be hurtful, even when they don't know that or intend it to be so.

So yes, I can accept that a 10 year old wouldn't understand the connotations of "blacking up," but it's depressing that his parents didn't, either - didn't see it as an opportunity to talk through some of the issues surrounding racism.

Depressing, but predictable, that many are saying it's just harmless fun and people are getting too uptight about this.

Just because someone stomps on your toe by accident doesn't mean it hurts any less than if they did it on purpose. When you explain that the stomping actually hurts, you hope the other person will stop doing it. If they respond by insisting on their right to bounce around as they please, that you're making a big deal out of nothing, that it was okay because no harm was intended, etc., then you can't help but wonder if they actually care if they're hurting someone.

And yes, appropriating someone else's culture and identity for "shits and giggles" can be hurtful. I've done it before at Halloween when I was young - dressed as an Indian and as a gypsy. I had no understanding of the experience of either at the time or that what I was doing could be hurtful. Wouldn't do it now. Plenty of other costumes to pick from.

I see the knives are already coming out for the new Lone Ranger film too, where Jonny Depp is playing Tonto rather than a genuine native American.

Fabuloo Thu 03-Jan-13 12:08:58

KRITIQ - I appreciate what you are trying to say and claerly you have good intentions but I also find it a bit patrionising and totally disagree with you.

Fabuloo Thu 03-Jan-13 12:09:56

KRITIQ - Who has been hurt by this boy dressing up as his favourite player?

seeker Thu 03-Jan-13 12:12:12

I just think that, as a rule of thumb, if you're not sure whether something is racist or not, it's best not to do it.

Easy peasy. Sorted.

Voice I thought Jonny Depp was part Cherokee from his great grandmother?

Wasn't there equal dissatisfaction with Mel Gibson in Braveheart, or Rene Zellwegger as Bridget Jones from the UK though?

Jins Thu 03-Jan-13 12:15:11

Doesn't Johnny Depp have Cherokee ancestry?

tethersjinglebellend Thu 03-Jan-13 12:15:20

"Is it just a white person dressing up as a black person, or would you find it offensive the other way round? How about a white person dressing up as a Japanese geisha or Indian person? Or the other way round? Or is any dressing up as another race but your own a no-no?"

Jesus Christ.

You have to ask?

Really?

"If it is because of the history of 'blacking up' do you think it is fair to judge future generations on the racist actions of previous generations, ironically, because of their race?"

This is singularly one of the most ridiculous things I have ever read on MN.

I'm out.

Fabuloo Thu 03-Jan-13 12:17:09

tethersjinglebellend - Yes I do have to ask, are you not going to answer?

ComposHat Thu 03-Jan-13 12:17:14

Just because someone stomps on your toe by accident doesn't mean it hurts any less than if they did it on purpose. When you explain that the stomping actually hurts, you hope the other person will stop doing it. If they respond by insisting on their right to bounce around as they please, that you're making a big deal out of nothing, that it was okay because no harm was intended, etc

Yes but the person whose toe was metaphorically stepped on it, was far from 'hurt' and was seemingly touched by the gesture. What is really offensive and patronising is that white, middle class handwringers seem to be telling him that his toe should be hurting and they have the right to be outraged on his behalf.

I'd always believed Depp had some Cherokee ancestory. But he's not wholly native American and therefore he shouldn't be playing the role. So THEY say.

seeker Thu 03-Jan-13 12:21:41

I just think that, as a rule of thumb, if you're not sure whether something is racist or not, it's best not to do it.

Easy peasy. Sorted.

I'm just going to keep saying this til most people say "oh, yes, that's sensible"
Then we'll know for certain that all the people still demanding their rights to cover themselves in boot polish and sing "Mammy" are proper racists.

Jins Thu 03-Jan-13 12:24:00

I agree seeker except the majority don't seem to have any doubts so can't use your rule of thumb

tittytittyhanghang Thu 03-Jan-13 12:24:03

Fabuloo, your not the only one, i too have to ask.

Why is any dressing up as another race but your own a no-no?"

KRITIQ Thu 03-Jan-13 12:24:29

Seeker's advice is the best. When in doubt, don't, and don't be afraid to ask someone how they'd feel about it before you do it.

Even if the footballer in this case appeared to be touched (like how else was he going to respond, eh?), it doesn't mean every other Black person will think it's hunky dorey or just conveniently forget the history and the racist context of black face.

I can see this is just going to be one of those discussions where the folks who feel entitled to do as they please will continue to defend their right and any explanation of why it's not a good thing will just be rubbished and disregarded. Life's too short and all . . . Ciao.

wigornian Thu 03-Jan-13 12:26:07

What a huge fuss...I'm mixed race, brown with black curly hair and would have no problem with this. People need to stop bing offended on behalf of others - I often find it is beeding heart liberals who get their kickers in a twist about things like this (Guardian readers, I'm looking at you!) rather than the supposed vctims.

DC is lighter than me, and has is oh's brown hair, my curls, and would pass for southern Europe.

We have some Gollywogs at home - what would the Guardian say to that!!

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