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Old photos do not excuse blackface

Blackface originated over 200 years ago, when racism was normalized and white actors would play black roles that were meant to stereotype and demean the African American community. It’s 2019, and we are just now making it a point to shed light on how disgusting this “trend” was—or rather, is. 

The first time I saw someone paint their face black was during my freshman year of college. It was a girl I knew from high school. She was Serena Williams for Halloween and thought painting her pale skin black would make her more “funny” and “recognizable.” 

She posted it on Twitter as a joke, expecting people to comment on how “clever” her costume was. Instead, her close friend throughout high school commented and publicly ended their friendship. Honestly, I was in shock. 

All three of us grew up in a very sheltered community, but each of us had very different perspectives on racism. The girl who painted her face was clearly ignorant—she thought it was “not that big of a deal” and that everyone was being dramatic. The girl who commented has experienced racism most of her life. At the time, I did not think people were still so outwardly racist. Keep in mind, this only happened three years ago.

Blackface is still a thing, and it is still disgusting. 

Something as simple as a Halloween costume can completely disrespect and hurt others. 

There is a reason why everyone is so politically correct now. It’s because we read articles about colleges finding photos from the 1980s of people painting their skin black and thinking it’s funny. It’s because this is the 21st century and it is still a problem. 

Everyone thinks we have made all this progress in terms of equality, but the truth is no one will be able to make real change if we are not aware of how bad things were and still are. As a freshman, I was guilty of this line of thinking because when I saw that picture on Twitter, I was in disbelief. 

People are still racist. People are still ignorant. It’s a sad truth, but it needs to be recognized. 

College has definitely made me more aware of our nation’s social climate, but I don’t think everyone at Rollins is as educated as they should be regarding the underlying trends of racism. 

Calling a black person “white” because they “act white” is never okay—just like painting your face black is never okay. Saying the N word, even if it’s in a song, does not excuse you. 

Racism comes in many forms. Blackface is one of the worst. It’s not funny—it’s atrocious, and ignorance is no longer an excuse. When you see articles that are exposing these awful, racist acts, think about how you can be better. If you are better, the next generation will hopefully continue in that direction.

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