We need to see black faces as encouragement and not insults
The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) aired a very interesting news item recently. According to the BBC, during the Chinese New Year’s celebrations, Asian actresses appeared in blackface make ups – you know, they painted their faces black and had exaggerated buttocks, in what some are calling a racial insult to black people. That particular programme was seen by hundreds of millions of people – and apparently, some of us blacks weren’t amused.
You know, the reason why some of us blacks continue to see such depictions, over many years, as insults, is very misplaced. I must admit that I for one am not really bothered by them at all – not in the least.
While it may be true that a part of the reason why these blackfaces keep coming up all over the place may have something to do with race, I really do believe that the much larger reason why other peoples continue to poke what they see as fun at us have much more to do than just that. But, first, we must recognize something.
We black people have not been the only ones, over many years, to be at the receiving end of these types of jokes, you know. I remember, when I was a little kid (mind you, not that long ago) when Asian people were at the receiving end of similar jokes. I remember one Bugs Bunny cartoon, in which Bugs was asking one of his “victims” if he was “yellow” and other cartoons depicting Asians (especially Chinese and Japanese) characters with exaggerated features being at the receiving end of jokes.
However, these days, such jokes with Chinese, Japanese and other South East Asians being the recipients are not so common these days. Do you know why? Just a few decades ago, China, Japan, and both Koreas and perhaps others were desperately poor, deprived, backward and weak. Of course, making fun at them at the time was profitable. Not so any more. How come? After all, these peoples’ external features haven’t changed – so why the halt?
Both Koreas are now very strong industrially. Japan and South Korea are wealthy nations. China is rapidly becoming the next global super state. Poking such jokes at them simply will not sell anymore.
However, as far as we can tell, our black nations have always been poor, deprived and backward – and everybody knows it. With such a miserable state of affairs, it is no wonder such jokes as blackfaces continue to receive such wide audiences – and acceptance.
The point I am making here is that blackfaces, which may appear to be racial on the surface, is actually a call for us to do better – at least, that is how I see them. Blackfaces aren’t so much telling the world that black people are inferior, ugly, stupid and of no use to humanity. Blackfaces are more telling the world, and we black people in particular, that we need to get up off of our brains and start putting them to work.
We, as black people, should always be reminded, when we see these blackfaces, that it really doesn’t make much sense for the rest of the world to continue supporting us – all for naught. After all – why, as we here in Jamaica like to say, continue wasting powder on black birds? No pun intended – or is there one?
With massive assistance, and through their own efforts, the Chinese, Japanese, Koreans and others have managed to lift themselves out of their backward states. Who is laughing at them now? Arguably, in many ways, with a lot more assistance – we blacks are still stuck in the rut. Who can blame others for still laughing to death at our expense?
So while some of us will continue to pull our hairs out and blow off our tops and fell insulted whenever we see others mocking us with blackfaces, I have more than enough self-confidence to understand the real meaning of such jokes. Time for us to grow up!
Michael A. Dingwall