Justin Trudeau and all the other idiotic celebrities who did blackface
Some people may think – what’s wrong with blackface? It’s just someone wearing makeup so they can dress as a black person. Here’s what’s missing from that incognizant rationale: blackface perpetuates an oppressive history of racist Black stereotypes. In the 1800s white men began to insert racist caricatures of plantation slaves into their minstrel shows. Heard of Jim Crow laws? Well, the character Jim Crow was performed by a white man in blackface who mocked black people with racist song & dance.
Black characters like Coons, Mammies, & Uncle Toms were invented by white people capitalizing off of these stereotypes. Black roles in entertainment were only seen through the eyes of white people. This was only the beginning of a legacy of black exploitation that clearly hasn’t been weeded out today.
Whether it’s total obliviousness, sour humor, or blatant discrimination – blackface is flat out not okay. Artificially changing your skin color to make you appear to be a different race is disrespectful on so many levels – regardless of the intent. We’re calling out these celebrities for their completely idiotic blackface appearances.
Photos of Canada’s pretty boy Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, show him in full blackface – or rather brownface – at an “Arabian Nights”-themed gala back in 2001. He was supposedly dressed as Aladdin but happened to be the only one in brownface at the event. Yikes.
Not only this, Trudeau also admitted that he wore blackface for a high school talent show so that he could sing the Jamaican folk song, “Day-O” by black singer & civil rights activist Harry Belafonte. Trudeau admits his incredible ignorance on both accounts in his apologies.
Latina star Eiza González known for flicks like Baby Driver and Bloodshot has been rising up the ranks in Hollywood lately – recently spotted locking lips with the Little Women actor Timothée Chalamet. However, shortly afterwards photos went viral of González in blackface in the telenovela Lola.
One twitter user reportedly asked González to address her blackface incident but she supposedly deleted the comments and blocked the user. Though, in a private conversation she alleged did apologize and own up to it, saying she didn’t want to have that role in the show in the first place.
Rising to fame in Dancing with the Stars, singer/dancer/actress Julianne Hough was photographed in blackface in 2013. At a Halloween party, Hough dressed as character Suzanne Warren aka “Crazy Eyes” from Orange is the New Black. Hough wore the classic orange jumpsuit and signature hairstyle with clearly painted on blackface.
Claiming that Crazy Eyes was her favorite character from the series, Hough explains how she realizes her costume “hurt and offended people.” While everyone wants to dress as their favorite character, can we all please just agree to never go that extra step to change our skin color? Sheesh.
Late-night host Jimmy Fallon sparked controversy when a Saturday Night Live sketch of him donning blackface resurfaced. In full blackface makeup, a wig, & leather jacket, Fallon impersonates black actor & comedian Chris Rock in this SNL skit.
While Fallon issued a profuse apology saying that engaging in this racist skit was a “terrible decision” and that he respects Chris Rock, many called for him to be canceled along with his show.
ABC late-night host Jimmy Kimmel produced a series of sketches in blackface on “The Man Show” where he impersonated Black stars like NBA player Karl Malone & Oprah Winfrey. These cringey sketches show him imitating Malone’s voice and parading around in a bodysuit as Oprah. Despite the sketches appearing in the 90s Jimmy Kimmel’s apology didn’t come until 2020.
Kimmel tries to explain why he held out, saying it would be “celebrated as a victory by those who equate apologies with weakness and cheer for leaders who use prejudice to divide us.” Moreover, he explains how he’s frustrated these “thoughtless moments” are used as a “weapon” against him which tries to diminish his activism.
In 2012 a video was released of the highly-famous actor Tom Hanks in blackface. Hanks was at a 2004 school fundraiser where he and another man were wearing blackface and stereotypical African clothing.
A movement came out trying to remove Hanks from Obama’s re-election campaign video in which Hanks did a voiceover. Hanks has vehemently denied being racist and condemned the bit as “horribly offensive.”
Sitcom 30 Rock featured actress Jane Krakowski dressed as a black man wearing blackface. She appears in this getup 30 Rock in two episodes which were meant to call out the TV industry’s history of blackface. Creator Tina Fey apologized, saying “I understand now that ‘intent’ is not a free pass for white people to use these images” and insisted on removing the episodes from the syndicate & streamers.
Celebrities with similar excuses for their ironic blackface performances include Robert Downey Jr. in Tropic Thunder & Sarah Silverman on her Comedy Central show. Reactions to their purposeful blackface are mixed but is it too hard to ask that celebrities just stop doing this? Do you really have to engage in this racist tradition to add some social commentary to your comedy skit? Give it a rest already.
Actor & comedian Ted Danson performed a monologue at the New York Friars Club Roast in 1993 in full blackface paint. The routine was apparently also filled with the N-word.
There was immediate backlash to the performance. Mayor David Dinkins who’s black said the jokes were “pretty vulgar and many were way, way over the line.” Danson issued a public apology on the matter and Whoopi Goldberg confessed she had written many of the offensive jokes herself.