On Race Relations

Well, I started a blog about race relations and racism, and then I was unsure of where I was going with it, so behold, the blog was erased. Maybe I’ll rewrite it in the future, I’m not sure.

Suffice it to say that there comes a point where identity politics (is that even the right phrase?) become a real thing, and the latest thing I’ve seen from Tumblr is of an actress who is of African and Latin descent who was cast for the role of a black woman in a movie, and people are claiming that the make-up used to make this woman look more like the character she’s supposed to portray is categorically blackface.

Tumblr can be a cesspool of people conflating their own stupidity with social justice and liberalism, but sometimes points of nuance are brought up and should be considered. I think this situation definitely calls for examining the nuances.

This is one where I’m not entirely sure, nor am I going to have the final say on the matter. The actress in question doesn’t identify as black in the American sense of the black identity, but she is of African ancestry. People are upset that darker-skinned actresses weren’t considered for the role.

There’s a fair point here, and it’s true that the favoritism of lighter-skinned women of color over darker-skinned women of color (sometimes called colorism) occurs in Hollywood and elsewhere in society; this situation could also be indicative of that.

However, I wonder if that’s necessarily the case, which is what some people seem to be implying.

Moreover, I’m not entirely sure that an actress who is a woman of color (with African and Latin ancestry) wearing make-up to portray another woman of color who is darker than she can be considered blackface.

Another important question is about the black identity. What constitutes what it means to be black? What are the parameters, the boundaries, the definitions on a cultural level? A friend of mine posted an article about black girls who were into some kind of rock music, and how people assume that makes them “less black” and so on, which of course presupposes what it means to be black in the first place; it presuppose that in order to “truly be black,” you have to think, feel, and behave a certain way.

So, yes. The whole matter gets confusing, but it needs to be discussed so we can arrive at some kind of reasonable appreciation.

Certainly, as a white person looking in from the outside, I can say that it’s confusing, and this is exactly the sort of thing that many white people are afraid to discuss because they’re not sure how to phrase it or frame it or are afraid of offending someone.

But no offense is intended- what is sought is understanding, clarification, and dialogue.

Well, I guess the blog that I intended to write has actually been written now.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s blog.

Steve

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