The Scourge of Blackface

It seems every time someone idiotically sports blackface in the US of A, the clamor of racism is touted. The prudent and socially conscious voice their alarm and discontent. Inevitably, around Halloween every year, we get to repeat and repeal our disgust with people who arbitrarily find amusement in blackface painting. Strangely enough, most often, these people are white.

This year, celebrity Dancing with the Stars, Julianne Hough caused a major twitter and social media stir with her orange face. There was also the pervasive obscenity of the individuals who decided to masquerade as the neighborhood watch and the hooded blackface individual with blood stained hoodie.. a sick joke on the Trayvon Martin tragedy. And yet another blackface, and this one was arsenic. A black woman, choose to have a noose around her neck, while two white friends are play acting as her captors. While the latter two characterizations are revolting and disgusting, and there is no apology for their obvious sickening displays, I thought about what blackface conjures up to me.

I am an unapologetically black, Caribbean, Trinidad and Tobago female. We have a yearly celebration that we proudly boast as the world's greatest dance party, Carnival. Rivalled only by Brazil, the Carnival in Trinidad and Tobago features the ghouls of J'ourvert, the dawning of the days of celebration, with black faces, blue faces, red, green and all colorations of mud indiscriminately plastered over the face and body. We also are costumed in the regalia of beads, glitz and glitter, sequins and feather in ornate and flaming opulence. It is called masquerade.

Back in my childhood days in Trinidad, I was a big fan of Al Jolson. Toot Toot Tootsie goodbye! Toot Toot Tootsie don't cry!.. I would tap and sing and pretend to tip my hat and cane just like I saw on TV. On our families black and white tv in the living room, we would all gather to enjoy, the Black and White Minstrels show and sing along to all the songs of the yesteryears.

Busted!! Paula Deen to the rescue! A good fit for the inside kitchen.. I surmise.

In the Caribbean, our education was steeped in academic excellence. Ingrained in our culture of pride and sophistication were the values of self worth and self esteem. Education above all else was our defining glory. Anyone, Negro as was the correct "Black" label in those days of the early sixties; West Indian style; Indian, Chinese, Syrian, Portuguese, Lebanese, the Whites were all party to academic achievements. Some were richer, we were poorer but we had all a fair chance to improve.

As a citizen of the USA since the early nineties, I have learnt the nuances of why prejudice is the rationale for even the absurdities of masquerade. In all its extremes, no one justifies the demeaning of the history of "black" people. Yet, were I to paint myself "white face" will I create the furor and uproar that "blackface" evokes? Are yellow, red, blue face sanctioned because it does not reek of racial profiling of other communities?

Many are using the "black" script to perjure society to be baited by the ridiculous. So a "black face" characterization by white America immediately conjures Racist. Even, as in Julian Houghs case, an apology is necessary for an orange face "caricature" "masquerade" because it is discriminating and "racist" .

Every year Trinidad and Tobagonians, and people who play "MAS" paint their faces black, blue, green and yellow… and it is, what it is "Masquerade"…

Pound the Alarm!!,, the title song on Nicki Minaj hit record about Carnival in Trinidad and Tobago depicts all the fusions of colored faces with glamor and revelry.

There is nothing "Racist" among people who respect and treat everyone with respect

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