Black Face: Should We Lighten Up?


Delbert H. Rhodes, Op-Ed

The black faces of the Missouri High School Powder Puff Team received negative attention from many in the Black communities, accusations of racial insensitivity abound. Especially noting the nearness to Ferguson, where racial tensions continue to throb in the hearts and minds of all concerned; however, is the MHSPPTs behavior racist or simply an innocent expression of fun?

Of course, if racism is certain then bring the violators to justice. However, without knowledge of individual thinking, or the team’s intent, accusations are mere rocks thrown by the emotionally uninformed. That said, surely as intelligent individuals, as Black people we (must) realize that everything chocolate or black is not linked to race, but merely color or shade.

Al Jolson adorning blackface absolutely mocked Black people, Master Juba, a Black Minstrel, adorned “blackface” mocking White Minstrels mocking Black people; yet is everyone masking blackface depicting race, and what of characterizations of foods, fruits, animals, moods, or even dark days?

Do Blacks not buy and consume chocolate bars or black coffee, or purchase and wear articles of the same color/shade? If true then could these practices be deemed racially prejudicial-preferences to chocolate or black-Silly?

What of Black women/men using white facial powder, makeup, does the powder not lighten otherwise darker skins? Does prettier or handsomer enter the minds of-at least-some? Is the practice too a form of “white face”? Let us never forget the use of hot combs, straightening irons, and other crèmes to “relax” or “process” the hair-some black men continue the “process” today.

Wigs of old, today, emerge as long flowing locks brushing shoulders of Black women, and whether celebrity or not, she adorns them. Yes, ladies you look wonderful, and -as do White women-why should “you” not have beautiful strands teasing the winds, or to be unconsciously (?) pushed aside by the finger? Truly, are these purely cosmetic modifications, or do they model something deeper, something hurtful?

Of the many reasons for this newly interlocking loveliness could one possible be omitted, White (r) is better? Formally, reconstruction of facial features was unknown to or done by Blacks, today it is not only familiar, but (by some) frequented. Rhinoplasty to reshape the nose appears quite desirable to some, Michael Jackson immediately comes to mind.

Following his unfortunate accident at the Pepsi commercial, could we truly know or understand why Michael chose to whiten rather than restore his original complexion? Considering his nose and skin, were outcomes extreme, did preferences to race play a part?

If Black women/men love their African-like characteristics then why modify them to appear more as White people- curiosity, employment, preference-is this a snowball rolling down a steep hill only to burst on immovable rocks, and what would its insides expose-I am just asking.

As Blacks we quickly, rightfully, react, respond to implied, inferred wrongs against us and our communities; we sternly protect families, our “turfs”. Are we as reactive, responsive, protective whenever “our” people wrong others?

Perception is key: is there difference between imagination, truth, and fact, are these differences incomprehensible?

Why do we-some of us- commonly, colloquially -lovingly? – use the term “nigger”? How does a term of hate complement; what type community does it build or solidify? Is it explainable that we have positively ingrained and perpetuate an historical defamation of our people? Could it be viewed as “reversed” racism? We take immovable stances about mistreatment from White people yet ingratiate horrific identifiers-Truth? Imagination? Fact? Why in an age of information are we ignorantly oblivious to perception?

Regarding the behaviors of others, we appear astutely perceptive-do we not?

Surely many of us recall the terms “hunkie,” “cracker,” and “ofay,” did any of us feel splendor as the terminologies lured us-privately-to more racial insults-any Black people pounding fists on lecterns because of “these” heinous behaviors in “our” communities?

“White Men Can’t Jump”: Was Director Ron Shelton, a White man, taking a racist stance, where Whites negatively portrayed in his earlier movie? How many Black people boycotted or even raised eyebrows about the movie and/or title-etc., etc.

As Blacks we (too) emulate others, including White people and unless their depictions of us are absolutely improper why create reasonable “wrongs”?

Naturally, the black faces painted on the Missouri High School Powder Puff Team spark historical discomforts in Black people, but should we view these young people, the Coach (s), the team as monstrous, immoral, repulsive, I say no.

If we set the standard (s) are we not “standard bearers”? If imitation is the greatest compliment, then should White people, any people suffer scorn, or even suits for identifying with Black behaviors, Black people?

Have we forgotten Whoopie Goldberg, her stand-up routine mocked White women mocking idiotic “air headed” White women? I neither recall anger nor insult of Whoopie from anybody, including White people, especially “air headed” White people? Everybody loved Whoopie-everybody. Whoopie now co-hosts The View, and yes, seemingly-still- everybody loves her.

The world is filled with color, black never stands alone. As a people, and as Black people, we must learn, endeavor to act more responsibly by allowing others the same fairness that we ask that we demand for us.

Seemingly, it is too easy to accuse others of shame, perhaps, in some ways, the shameful finger points more inward than outward.

Truth: As Blacks, do we-often-decry the white hearts of some while ignoring the blackness of others-accordingly, the Missouri High School Powder Puff Team’s colors-including its faces-are black and gold-this year no one brought the gold-maybe we should lighten up, (just) a little.

Copyright © 2014 Delbert H. Rhodes

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