Tag Archives: blackface

The 10 biggest race and pop culture trends of 2006: Part 1 of 3

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

On episode 12 of Addicted to Race back in January 2006, Jen and I counted down the top trends of the previous year, 2005. They were: DNA tests, hate crimes, celebrities talk about race, how can I be racist? I’m in an interracial relationship!, blackface is back, race still black and white only, more products for mixed people and families.

I figured I’d continue that tradition by breaking down the top trends in race and pop culture of 2006. Thanks to everyone who submitted their ideas. Here are some honorable mentions that didn’t make it into my list as stand-alone items, though you’ll see that almost all will be mentioned as part of other items: non-apologies, anti-PC movement, comparing races, un-PC humor, all things Africa, black and gay half-brothers on sitcoms.

And by the way, be sure to check out Rachel’s Been There Done That List of Unfashionable Racial Issues and I’m So Hot I’m on Fire List of The Most Fashionable Racial Trends of 2006 .

So here we go with numbers 10 through 8 of my list. Check back tomorrow for 7 through 4, and Wednesday for the top 3.

10. Race-swapping undercover experiments
9. Hipster racism
8. The continuing obsession with interracial relationships

10. Race-swapping undercover experiments

TV during the first quarter of 2006 was all about undercover experiments, so much so that I actually wrote a post about it in late February. (And the queen of undercover experiments was undoubtedly Miss Tyra Banks.)

Not all of these experiments had to with race:

  • Tyra Banks goes undercover in a fatsuit to examine prejudice against overweight people
  • Journalist Norah Vincent goes undercover as a man and writes the book Self-Made Man : One Woman’s Journey into Manhood and Back
  • Tyra Banks dons “trashy clothes, a latex nose and a wig to disguise herself as a sexy dancer and took a secret film crew into a strip club” to expose the “sleazy world of strippers and pole dancers.”

But a great many of them were all about race:

  • The most notorious example was the reality series Black.White. on FX, in which a white family put on blackface and a black family put on whiteface to see what it was like living as a different “race.” As you can imagine, it was festival of racial stereotypes in which nobody learned anything constructive about anything.
  • Tyra Banks sends a black woman (who on a previous show declared she hated black women) out in whiteface to try and get at “the root of her hate.” She also sent the black/white mixed writer Angela Nissel (whom I interviewed on episode 24 of Addicted to Race) on dates “both as a black woman and as a white women to see if they treat her differently.”
  • Even Oprah got in on the race-swapping fun when she entered “The Human Race Machine” to see “what she looks like white? Asian? Hispanic?” Ugh!

Sometimes the race-swapping wasn’t done in an undercover fashion, but simply by putting a black person in a white community or a white person in a black community (because you know, those are the only two races that count on TV).

  • Dr. Phil did a god-awful episode about race in which he forced a white racist to spend two whole days with a black family in an effort to “cure” him of his racism. You can my rant about it in episode 13 of Addicted to Race.
  • Trading Spouses did an episode in which the Josephs (a black family from Harlem, NYC) and the Gibbons (a white family from Mendon, Massachusetts) swapped spouses.

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YouTube Wire: Free hugs, Harajuku and The Pimp Chronicles

by guest contributor Luke Lee, Racialicious’s senior YouTube correspondent

If there’s one fad that doesn’t seem to die down in online popularity it’s blackface. Despite all those millions of Weird Al “White and Nerdy” views and iTunes purchases (seriously, it’s been on the iTunes top 10 for a while. People aren’t just listening to it once and laughing, they’re buying the song.) people still feel the need to perform BWTAB particularly when sandwiched with a popular hip-hop song or a stereotypical rap beat. The so-called “Kings of MySpace” come in with their video which, simply, it sucks.

And speaking of music and music videos throwing around weird racial representations, we have of course good old Gwen Stefani who comes in with her “Wind It Up” music video which features those creepy Harajuku Girls (but in blonde hair this time). People, we’ve got to free the Harajuku/Gwenihana four!

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Blackface at Texas A&M: dialogue, not just condemnation, is needed

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

blackface texas A&MWe’ve documented the upward rise in blackface and “ghetto party” incidents extensively on this blog, but I’m still amazed by how prevalent it is, and how it seems to be spreading faster than ever, especially on college campuses.

The latest blackface incident comes from Texas A&M (thanks Sandra!). Two white students made a video in which one of them was supposed to be a “slave” being disciplined by the other one. You can view a clip of it here (you’ll have to sit through a few commercials first). Here’s the description of the tape from ABC News:

On the tape, the white student in blackface is disciplined by a second white student playing the role of a slave master with a belt. Professors say the white student is carrying a “12th Man Towel,” a symbol of how Texas A&M fans help the football team. In the three-and-a-half minute tape, the student in blackface is put through a mock whipping and sexual assault.

University spokespeople don’t want to confirm that the students involved were disciplined, but they did say that both students are no longer enrolled at the school. Texas A&M President Robert Gates (about to leave the post to be the new Secretary of Defense) also issued a statement saying that the video is “so utterly disgusting that, regardless of race, religion, or background, I believe virtually any member of our Aggie family would be outraged and ashamed if they viewed it.”

It’s good that the responses have been unambiguously condemnatory, but at the end of the day, condemning these actions won’t bring about any real change.

I hope that Texas A&M will learn something from Whitman College (thanks Lyonside!). There was an outcry among the student body when photos were found of students who put on blackface to mimic the racially segregated cast of “Survivor: Cook Islands” at an off-campus party.

Instead of merely denouncing this act, Whitman College cancelled classes for an entire day and organized a full-day symposium on race relations which every single student had to attend.

And this wasn’t some lame “we are the world,” “there’s no race but the human race” crapfest. Take a look at the agenda. Some of the panels and workshops included:

  • The History of Blackface
  • Creepy Fun, Complicit Thoughtlessness, and Taking Action
  • On Being White in A Racist Society: A Workshop on Becoming An Effective Ally
  • Individual vs. Institutional Discrimination
  • “I’m Not a Racist”: Feigning Moral Blindness
  • Race, Class and Gender in Outdoor Sports and Institutions; AKA “Why is it Always White Dudes Leading Trips?”
  • The History of Race in the Greek System

Wow. Now that demonstrates a commitment to diversity.

I sincerely hope that Texas A&M, and all the other schools that have experienced similar incidents, will look to Whitman as an example of what to do. Condemning these racist acts is important. But at the end of the day, if the perpetrator doesn’t understand why what he/she did was wrong or offensive, nothing is going to change.

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links for 2006-11-04

links for 2006-11-03

More blackface on political blogs

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

wolf blitzer blackfaceWow, do we need to start a “blackface blogging” category here on Racialicious?

Just a couple months ago we told you about a Huffington Post blogger who decided to put Joseph Lieberman in blackface. And now yet another liberal blogger is dipping into the burnt cork, this time to mock CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer. (Hat tip to Rachel’s Tavern.)

And check out his lame defense of his “politically incorrect” act. Gimme a break.

When are people going to realize that there’s nothing new or edgy about racism? I can’t believe people are still using this lipstick-on-a-pig tactic of referring to racism as “political incorrectness.”

links for 2006-10-27