Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Blackface Media Blog 7
Comic Strip found at en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/Blackface
The media item I found was a comic strip titled Blackface and darky iconography. It has a blackface man with huge black hair, big eyes, and big pink lips sitting in a chair with a woman and two children around him. The woman and children this man was entertainment and something they could laugh at. The black-faced man was sitting in a rocking chair dressed in a cartoon looking suit and has an expression of a googly-eyed smile. The white children and mother are entertained by this character and see him as something instead of someone. All the characteristics on the man pop out such as the eyes, hair, lips, and color of the man.
Blackface is a style of theatrical makeup that originated in the United States, used to affect the countenance of iconic, racist American archetype that of the darky or coon stated Wikipedia. The white people saw these blackfaces as comical and entertaining, they did not even think there was a true person with feelings under the black face. In the movie “Ethnic Notions” it talked about black face and how it was so popular in entertainment and so racist as well. The movie showed Bert Williams and he was the highest paid African American entertainer of his day. I remember Williams saying “After I perform the white folks invite me back to a party with them and I sit and wait by the door and no one will let me in because without my entertainment attire they are embarrassed to be with me. I am a man too, I want to go out and have a good time” (Ethnic Notions). This is an example of how Williams was treated differently and unfairly because he was black. Even though he was a good entertainer and made more money then many other colored people or even some white people, the white folks still looked at his as inferior and like he wasn’t human. In the reading “Drawing the Color Line” Zinn stated, “The blacks had been torn from their land and culture, forced into a situation where the heritage of language, dress, custom, and family relations was bit by bit obliterated except for the remnants the blacks could hold on to by sheer, extraordinary persistence” (25). This explains how black people did not have a choice at what they did or how they were treated. Blackface is an example of that, the black men that performed blackface did not like how they felt when doing the job getting made fun of and having a stereotype towards their race and enforcing it by dressing in costume and performing. Wikipedia states, “But apart from cultural references such as those seen in theatrical cartoons, onstage blackface essentially was eliminated in the U.S. post-vaudeville, when public sensibilities regarding race began to change and blackface became increasingly associated with racism and bigotry” (Wikipedia). Blackface might have been entertainment for some but to others it was a way to make racist comments and enforce race towards black people. Blacks where humiliated and made a stereotype that blackface enforced to be popular.
I think that blackface is a stereotype towards black people. Many thought of it as entertainment and comedy and those who performed it, it was a way of life and survival. But the meaning behind it was wrong and hurtful. I think today blackface was looked at as more racial then comical. The readings like Drawing the Color Line and the movie Ethnic Notions was a good example of seeing the meaning behind blackface.