Celebrating Miami Heat’s Win in Blackface: Insult or Admiration?

miami heat win blackface

Celebrating Miami Heat’s Win in Blackface: Insult or Admiration?

The day that the Miami Heat were playing their final championship game I was shocked (and I can’t stress the word shocked enough) when I opened Facebook and there, right on my timeline were two pictures of an acquaintance’s husband in blackface wearing a Miami Heat shirt.  The reason?  They were cheering Wade and Lebron. This was his way of celebrating his basketball idols.

Did I not get the memo? I thought blackface was one of the most deeply offensives gestures one can do in regards to African-Americans. And yet, here was a person obviously trying to show their love for their heroes who happen to be black. Just a few months ago this also happened to be one of the hot topics on one particular daytime talkshow. The ladies were discussing how during an 80’s college party, 4 white kids showed up dressed as The Cosbys, an iconic TV family of the 80’s. These kids were trying to honor what was a groundbreaking program and through their actions, ended up being reprimanded by university officials. The two black women on the panel argued back and forth regarding the appropriateness of this. One for it, one against it.

So, I am asking everyone for their opinion. Can we as society say we have progressed to the point that white or Hispanics can wear blackface in order to show their love for black leaders or heroes or does it still stand as insulting?

Have people been scarred so deeply by the past meaning of blackface that we can’t accept it as admiration? Does it hurt more than help that we tell people of other races not to dress or Iook like another when all they are trying to do is uphold a positive image of that group? I would love to hear what you think and how would you react if you see someone putting on blackface in order to celebrate African-Americans that they admire.

 

Image via www.lebronjames.com

 

Comments

  1. Herman Moore says

    Hi Mari: Your recent blog post left me shocked, but not surprised that in 2012 we still have people that think it is ok to wear black face. In general, we are all poor purveyors of history. During the early part of last century, it was common and popular for white musicians to perform in blackface as a way of honoring the roots the ragtime music they were singing (see Al Jolson). All this while black musicians who founded the music languished as third class citizens. Prior to this blacks and native americans were portrayed in cinema in Black / Red face in movies…often as the "savage" or the "animal" in films disparaging entire races of people. My own recent history with black face came as a student at the University of Vermont where I learned of a tradition called "Cakewalk" where white fraternity students would dress in black face and dance and strut in public to mimic a very degrading time in black history where blacks would perform for food and sweets…"Walkin fo dee kake" if you will. Those students felt that tradition trumped the obvious derogatory nature and history of what they were doing. I often wonder if people who do this kind of thing think about the "roots" of what they are doing and how it would be perceived. You can never tell what is on a persons mind or what is in their heart when they do something; and there will always be people who will cry political correctness over such an issue. But I would hope that people would just think prior to doing something like this.

    • Mari says

      Thanks so much for jumping into the conversation Herman! I appreciate it! Yes, I think the word " "shocked" says it all. I try not to judge because I am not of African-American descent but I do know enough with my media studies to remember what I learned about the portrayal of black men by white people at the dawn of electronic media (film and TV) and it was very, very sad. So, to see similar images nowadays, no matter what positive spin they try to give it, its still a disheartening to me.

  2. says

    Mari, this is so messed up. I honestly can't understand why something like this is even debatable when all of our history shows just how insensitive and degrading it is. People need to learn the history behind black face and why it's inexcusable. Sad to see that people are still doing this kind of thing and thinking very little about their actions.