Earlier this year, Numéro used a white model for a March 2013 editorial titled “African Queen.” Yes, instead of using a black model (there are plenty to choose from), they made a 16-year-old white model from Lumberton, North Carolina brown for the photo shoot.

In April, Vogue Netherlands wanted to illustrate the inspiration beind two Marc Jacobs looks which were inspired by Josephine Baker and Grace Jones. Instead of using gorgeous black models, they painted two white models black. Considering this is the same country that called Rihanna’s fashion choices as the “ultimate niggabitch” I am not sure anyone was surprised by this one. *side eye*

Then comes the season of Halloween! This past weekend, many people decided to dress up and celebrate. Now I know every year, people are going to dress up in offensive costumes, but it just seems like this year is getting out of control. “Dress up as a black person” seems to becoming more and more popular. Sigh…

One guy dressed as Travyon Martin. In this case, it’s not just the blackface that is the problem; he posed next to a guy dressed as George Zimmerman. Really?? Fashion designer Allesandro Dell’Acqua wore blackface for a “Disco Africa” Halloween party. ‘Dancing With The Stars’ dancer Julianne Hough painted her face brown in order to be ‘Crazy Eyes’ from the show ‘Orange is the New Black’ and a woman in Australia hosted an ‘African’ Themed birthday party where guests dressed in blackface.

I think some people purposely dress up in blackface to be offensive because they’ re racist and think its’ funny (see the story about the Trayvon Martin costume here).  I believe other people like Juilanne Hough (see her apology here), don’t mean to be offensive; they are just ignorant to what a white person painting their face brown or black represents. Regardless if one intended to be offensive or not, the history of a white person painting their face black runs deeper than doing so for a Halloween costume.

Blackface was started during a time when Blacks were considered less human (we can keep it real and say there are some in the world that still feel this way). White performers would dress in blackface (and often times exaggerate their lips and wear woolly wigs) to perform minstrel shows, dehumanizing black people.  These minstrel shows were usually performed in front of a white audience, so the show itself served as an opportunity to make fun of a culture and project the worst possible stereotypes (i.e black people are lazy and buffoonish).

So for many black people, when they see a white person with black paint on their face, they see more than just a Halloween costume or someone trying to channel Grace Jones. They see a person making fun of black people; dehumanizing them. Blackface represents a time in history when black people were used as a footstool for comedic relief.

Moral of the story: white people please stop painting your face black! And if you ever have to question whether or not painting your face black will be offensive, you already know the answer.

What are your thoughts about blackface and the situations that have happened this year?


Check out this CNN article about blackface here. You can also view more recent moments of Blackface in fashion at Fashion Bomb Daily.

Photos provided by Fashion Bomb DailyHuffington Post and US History Scene

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