Two girls attending Kansas State University have been suspended from the school. Why…?
Source: @JustDesmund Twitter
They posted this image on their Snapchat story, one of the girls followers screen-grabbed and posted on twitter, the administration was made aware, and what I believe to be an appropriate punishment was handed out. What should we make of this though? What sort of punishment can counteract and change behaviors? Is there a time in society when blackface and minstrel “performances” are so far gone that the stereotypes will be awash? When looking at an image such as this I am so disheartened, irritated, and truly wonder about these questions of change.
Although it seems as if this case has nothing to do with sitcoms and this course, after watching and reading for this week the connection became alarmingly clear. As this week has reminded us, the performance of blackface dates back years and years: from the time of blackface stage productions in the Jim Crow South to the on air radio broadcast of Amos ‘n’ Andy, which later turned into a television sitcom.
What is extremely sad is the fact that this is not the first or last occurrence of a blackface “scandal”. Remember when actress/dancer Julianne Hough dressed as Uzo Aduba’s Orange is the New Black character Crazy Eyes for Halloween, blackface and all. Or the HBO television show Angry Boys in which the actor uses blackface to portray one of his many characters. Or the viral video of a young white boy wanting to be President Obama for Halloween, and his parents allowing him to dawn blackface. I truly believe that no matter what the circumstance, and based on the history of blackface, there is no situation in which it can be deemed appropriate. In all situations it should be seen as disrespectful, racist, and potentially inhumane.
The performance of blackface, although thought to be private in this Snapchat situation, still exists today. What has occurred here is a perpetuation of stereotype and minstrel behaviors. This behavior passed down through radio, television, sitcoms, etc.