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November 10, 2012


Replies: 29

body art and ethnicity


I was at a small get-together the other day and was telling people about how I painted my face as a black person the night day before. My intention was to get across that I am a fabulous dresser and I painted myself in such a way that was tasteful and in sink with my colorful personality.

So what I thought was a good natured innocent thing backfired on me completely and everyone in the room suddenly treated me like I just did something very racist. I am not racist of course and I love all the races equally. Also, no one displayed any offense at the party I was at when I was face painted.

I remain ignorant to the idea that painting yourself as another race in order to make yourself look pretty and alluring is a racist thing to do. Those who I explained this too felt it still to be racist anyway, but why should it be?! Should the known fact that a history of cruel violence exists around an art form prevent us from using that art form to create a beauty that at most shares minor visual (not even stylistic) traits with its predecessors?

If someone can help me realize how much of a racist I am by what I have done then I am eager to find out how wrong I am.


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Devious Comments

CouchyCreature Nov 11, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
you don't need more people to tell you how wrong you are, just a few telling you that it was probably a bad choice and wrong. How wrong is irrelevant really unless you really believe that it wasn't wrong at all.
scythepuppet Nov 11, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Minstrel shows are generally regarded as very old-school propaganda. Although it was a form of entertainment, it also served to misinform the public about black people, to make them seem clownish, servile, absurd, sinister. When stuff like that is your only contact with black people, the lies stick, even if they're transparently lies. It introduces a pattern of thinking that confirmation bias will reinforce later. If it's not your only contact, well, it can just be painful to watch.

You're not a racist--your intentions were fine. Almost weirdly admirable. However, this is the sort of thing where you have to appreciate how other people are taking your actions. As soon as that makeup goes on, everything you do will be interpreted as your imitation of a black person, and that can veer into offensive really quickly. Ever heard a comedian do a "white guy voice"?

People generally don't like to see someone transparently pretending to be something they're not, and costumes are generally regarded as mocking. Whether you intend it to or not, having someone copying you is generally not as complimentary in this context.
puppy-dangerous Nov 11, 2012  Professional Artisan Crafter
It's 'offensive' because people used to put on blackface to play insulting characters.

People get way to offended over this stuff now.
MPsai Nov 11, 2012   Digital Artist
...Why didn't you just get a tan?
LadyZelda1 Nov 11, 2012
racist is only what the government says - but then area 51 doesn't exist.
LadyZelda1 Nov 11, 2012
LadyZelda1 Nov 11, 2012
Al Jolson did it and no one harped on him. People are just too politically correct and are too afraid of Big Brother. You wusses!
Black face could be done tastefully and in a non=racist way, yeah, why not. (Theatrical make up is generally for portraying something without actually being that something). There was even a vaudeville performer Bert Williams [link] who did black face and actually was black.
That said, there is an unfortunate history of racist satire and stereotyping there, but with very mixed elements as well. [link].
rockstar1009 Nov 10, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Lots of people are racist cunts and have no idea they are being completely fucking disgusting. Another fine example: [link]

How is that any better than Blackface? I'll never know. :no:
It felt like one of many great ways to beautify myself as I am very narcissistic.

I looked at some examples of black faces done in the past and found that those face paintings were a lot more extreme than how mine looked. I made my skin a luscious copper with gold blush, fine eyeliner, and a mole. I also painted my goatee and mustache black. The event I was at was featuring artwork showing images of Snoop Dogg.

I know now to tread lightly when doing this or avoid it completely. We might as well ban all forms of art because they can all be traced back to a history of racism no?
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