Please stop with the Blackface comparisons
[TW: Blackface on some of the links]
When I was a kid, and even still now, if I acted a fool (I was being disrespectful, talking back, etc.) my momma would say “Have you lost yo mind?” or “You must’ve lost yo mind, and I’m bout to help you find it.” And I feel like people indeed have.
There seems to be this recurring…thing where mainly non-Black people like to compare their oppression to the oppression of Black people, specifically Black Americans (*Black-American here means U.S. descendants of enslaved Africans.) I don’t know why this is happening (coughs anti-Black racism coughs) but it needs to to stop. Especially the comparisons to Blackface. Why? Because Blackface is nothing like Redface, Yellowface, Brownface, etc.
Thank you for posting this. Blackface is not comparable to yellowface. Recently with Cloud Atlas, I have heard Asian American activists decrying that “the film didn’t do this/wouldn’t dare do this to the black community” with the implicit argument that somehow the black community more protected from discrimination in the Hollywood system. This isn’t true.
Some of this perception might stem from what Mike said, which is that perhaps (white dominated) Hollywood perceives that the black activism community might be able to organize more effectively against blackface. I think some of it is also rooted in this idea that Asians are differentially racialized to be more docile and quiet about yellowface, and therefore (to Hollywood) a less “intimidating” group to raceface, which, still—really screwed up beliefs. It doesn’t mean that Hollywood is less racist towards the black community, as some Asian American activists are now saying (ugh). It only means that Hollywood is racist towards different groups in different ways—which is why blackface and yellowface are not comparable.
(clipped for length)
Okay so I might be showing my ass here, I understand that comparing oppression is NOT OKAY, but sometimes I’m trying to explain why something is fucked up to someone and they just fucking don’t get it? But for some reason they “get” that being racist to black people is bad, but they don’t “get” that being racist to any other poc is bad? Like why the fuck does that happen, and after positing all my logical arguments they still don’t fucking get it. But if someone says “well imagine if they were black instead, you wouldn’t do that right?” and then they go “oohhh okay yea i see”
Does this make sense, like I really fucking do not want to compare oppression because they’re so different and obviously the oppression black people face is uniquely extra fucked up in the US, but how the hell do i get it across to those morons? Is it okay to say “for example if the situation were this in stead (not to say comparing oppression is okay because it still happens to black people, but lets pretend you are a self identifying non racist induvidual [aren’t they always?]), would you still think doing that (facing, slurs, etc) is okay?” to make a point, or is that still like really wrong?
I just don’t know how to get it through those people’s heads! Is there an argument people use that i’m missing, or are people who don’t get it without some fucked up comparison beyond saving?
If I’m asking something really basic though every please call me out.
I kind of feel like some (many?) people claim to be “not racist” because they are scared of being socially judged, and that the driving motivation is not because they want to be egalitarian and allies and not racist. In fact, people take personal offense to being called “racist.” So there’s this social pressure to not be publicly racist and it is socially unacceptable within certain contexts to be racist… and since America sees race issues in black and white maybe people just internalize it as “I can never let people know I have an implicit bias against black people or they might think I am racist.” (Not because that would be perpetuating an injustice, but because others might think poorly of them.) So in that sense, due to fucked up situations that condition people to deny the existence of their personal internalized racism and bias against black people, people will say, “of course I wouldn’t do that to a black person, I am a good person, I wouldn’t do that.” (This is just my speculation but I feel like this is a part of the invisibility of anti-blackness. Because there are all sorts of things that non-black people are willing to do to black people due to the combination of racism and anti-blackness.)
I think the temptation is there as PoC who don’t experience anti-blackness to do the whole “well, would you do it to a black person” thing because we know that white people (and PoC who have internalized racism) have been socially conditioned to deny any racist ideas they have towards black people. (Again, not because they really care, but due to social norms.) But ultimately that is using an anti-black method to challenge racism and all it does is reinforce both parties’ anti-blackness.
I don’t know how you would get through to someone experiencing the kind of cognitive dissonance that makes the “but you wouldn’t do it to a black person” argument persuasive to them…but reinforcing anti-blackness isn’t it.