The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Viewpoint – Origins of blackface verify offensiveness

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The Collegian logo

Michael Foster-Sanders/campus editorBlackface and negative stereotypes have been a hot topic throughout news and social media with a resurgence of controversy just in time for Black History Month.

From politicians taking yearbook pictures with it to the occasional Halloween costume of thugs or clothing lines using the imagery for its products, it’s a reminder of the troubled past this country has been through.

Ignorance is the primary the cause for these transgressions. Some people don’t fully understand why blackface is always offensive, and it takes a look back at history to learn and use the knowledge to understand and grow.

Slavery was the starting point for many African-Americans in this country. Families were torn apart and sold to the highest bidder. Men, women and children brutalized mentally, physically and sexually to break their spirit so they would be docile and obedient for the free labor.

During this time and before the Civil War in the early 1830s, the low-income whites in the North and South who didn’t feel they had a position or a voice created minstrelsy or minstrel shows as a way to say blacks are sub-human.

White actors painted their faces with burnt cork and became caricatures of slaves. The worst offender of this being the Thomas Dartmouth “Daddy” Rice character Jumping Jim Crow.

The Jim Crow character took upon a new face as Jim Crow laws were used to oppress blacks such as voter suppression, grandfather clauses and segregation.

Blackface and black stereotypes became such a mainstay in entertainment during the early 1900s. D.W. Griffith’s film “The Birth of a Nation” was the first motion picture shown at the White House for a private screening for president Woodrow Wilson, and kicked-off a revival of the Ku Klux Klan with its imagery of white men in blackface being savages and kidnapping white women with the Klan saving the day.

With that said, there is no excuse  for blackface given its history.

And acceptance of anyone caught doing it halts the progression of this country.

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