Anyone who frequents these parts often will know that I’m not a big fan of blackface or its apologists, so you can imagine the stern Tweet that I sent to celebrity and singer Delta Goodrem after this little stint.
It didn’t end there however: Mia Freedman, who produces Australia’s premier online women’s mag wrote an article with some ‘interesting’ thoughts on the debacle. Usually I’d send her a stern Tweet as well, however Freedman is a pretty level headed person whom I really admire, so I figured I’d a different approach.
In a world where the history of blackface was different, y’know, in an alternate universe where it wasn’t used in the manner of a derogatory slur, the act of a white person dressing up as a black person mightn’t be so offensive. But we don’t live in that alternate universe, and that context exists.
If someone attended a costume party as an infamous serial killer, a notorious paedophile, or a Nazi say, people would rightly be offended. The thing is, blackface has a similar context in that the people who practised it (ie colonial whites) owned slaves whom they tortured, raped, and trafficked as if they weren’t real people.
Practising blackface honours those traditions in the same way a swastika honours the “traditions” of a certain political party. They are equally tactless.
Goodrem’s flippant Tweet rings loudly as an endorsement: “It’s okay to defame black people,” it says. Freedman’s article similarly reads as apology, but let’s think about it. Person A does something racist, celebrity B says “That is hilarious” — how is this not an endorsement of Person A’s actions and therefore a vicariously racist act?
People should be made to understand that there does not exist a situation in which blackface is okay.