By Daniel J. McLaughlin
It goes without saying, of course, that blackface is wrong. It has always been wrong, and it will always be wrong. Yesterday, today, and tomorrow - nothing will stop blackface being repugnant and morally wrong.
While its origins can be traced back to the days of transatlantic slavery, blackface exploded as a form of racist entertainment from and for white people in the mid to late 19th century. It was used it what was called minstrel shows.
The Conversation explains that minstrelsy depended on, and produced, stereotypical portrayals of black people. For instance, burnt cork or shoe polish was used to cover the face, leaving wide areas around the mouth that would either be left unpainted, or painted in red or white, to give the appearance of oversized lips.
"Overall, the makeup was a deliberate attempt to disdainfully represent black people as outlandish," they write, "Once in blackface, minstrels would used exaggerated accents, malapropisms, awkward movements and garish attire to further ridicule black people."
They were not flattering representations whatsoever, Vox adds. "Taking place against the backdrop of a society that systematically mistreated and dehumanised black people, they were mocking portrayals that reinforced the idea that African-Americans were inferior in every way," they argue.
In a 2012 essay 'Just Say No to Blackface: Neo-Minstrelsy and the Power to Dehumanize' for the Huffington Post, Dr David J. Leonard argues that blackface is never a neutral form of entertainment, and "there is no acceptable reason to every done blackface". It isn't a joke, it isn't funny - it comes from a position of privilege and power.
"Blackface is part of a history of dehumanisation, of denied citizenship, and of efforts to excuse and justify state violence. From lynchings to mass incarceration, whites have utilised blackface (and the resulting dehumanisation) as part of its moral and legal justification for violence," Dr Leonard writes.
He adds: "[Blackface is] an incredibly site for the production of damaging stereotypes - the same stereotypes that undergird individual and state violence, American racism, and a centuries worth of injustice."
Blackface is not a harmless form of entertainment, and people are not too sensitive to react against the racist stereotypes. It is wrong - always has been, and always will be. Unfortunately, there are some who still need to receive the memo.