Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Why Is Blackface Such A Big Deal?

That devil, woof
New York Times - A prominent state assemblyman from Brooklyn defended himself on Monday after wearing blackface to a party he hosted to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Purim, saying he did not mean to offend anyone. The assemblyman, Dov Hikind, a Democrat and a longtime power broker in the Orthodox Jewish community, wore an Afro wig, brown makeup, an orange jersey and sunglasses as part of a costume that he said represented a “black basketball player.” “The main objective that I have is not to be recognizable,” Mr. Hikind said in an interview. “Of course the intention was not to offend anyone. That’s the last thing that I ever imagined that would happen, to be very honest. It never crossed my mind.” Mr. Hikind had hundreds of guests to his home on Sunday, and as he said he had done in past years, he enlisted a professional makeup artist to help him with his costume. When his grown son, Yoni, asked him if he could post a photograph of the outfit on Facebook, Mr. Hikind said he did not see a problem with it. But on Monday morning, after The New York Observer published an article about the costume, Mr. Hikind found himself at the center of a firestorm. He initially brushed off the attention, writing on his blog that it was a product of “political correctness to the absurd” and adding, “There is not a prejudiced bone in my body.” 

This is the big story in the Times today, assemblyman Dov Hikind getting heat from everyone about his "basketball player" costume to his Purim party which is one of those bullshit jew holidays only jews know about. I can go a number of ways with this one so let's break it down:

First off, this costume sucks. In what league are players wearing v-neck jumpsuits? How many players still wear afros? Josh Childress and half of Andrew Bynum and that's it. I can understand the criticism if the headline read, "Everyone Outraged About How Shitty Assemblyman Dov Hikind's Purim Costume Was". Totally justifiable if people were just mad about his lack of creativity, accuracy, humor, etc. Secondly, that's not even blackface, looks more like orangeface to me. If anybody should be up in arms about this it should be oompa loompas, because that's what he looks like. That or just a really tan bro dressed like a weirdo. I certainly wouldn't confuse him for Kevin Druant is all I'm saying.

I'm also a little confused because I thought jews got a pass on stuff like this. You know how black comedians can just make fun of every race because they have racial immunity or because white people are scared of them? When Dave Chappelle dressed in "whiteface" all the time on the Chappelle Show you didn't see every pundit in America calling him a racist. I thought it was the same for jews. I was under the impression that slavery bought black people infinity years of racial immunity while the Holocaust did the same for jews. It's like when Costanza didn't get the memo from the pigeons that the deal of them jumping out of the way of cars was off. Poor Dov here didn't get the memo from the blacks that the deal was off and that blackface was once again inappropriate, even for jews.

Why is blackface so inappropriate? I Google'd it to try and find some sort of historical connotation and from what I can tell white stage actors used to use blackface to portray black people in a stereotypical way when up on stage. I read up on some article on blackculturalstudies.org explaining that it was used to express a superiority complex whites had over blacks in the early 20's. Here's the problem with a story like this though - this isn't even close to the same context in which the term is negatively related. Dov wanted to dress like a basketball player for jew Halloween, like 95% of the players in the NBA are black, if so fact o he paints himself orange black. Basically the ignorant mass media is saying that no white person can EVER dress like any black person for Halloween or in any circumstance ever. If I wanted to do a tribute to my favorite athlete of all-time and dress like Hakeem Olajuwon for Halloween next year, I'd have to leave my skin white just so people at the party can say, "Ok, I got it, you're white Hakeem Olajuwon" as opposed to "awesome fucking costume you look exactly like the Dream". Anyone who relates this story to Prohibition-era racism is an idiot, plain and simple.


3 comments:

  1. Looks much more like a prison jumpsuit than a basketball jersey to me... just saying...

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    1. Yeah I ragged on the shitty costume execution in paragraph 2

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  2. He looks like George Hamilton in the picture :)

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