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To think 'blacking up' isn't necessarily racist?

(298 Posts)
Fabuloo Wed 02-Jan-13 20:29:14

Apologies in advance for the Daily Mail link....

this article

I think it's more to do with the intention behind it rather than the 'act'. DD is mixed race and sometimes dresses up in a blonde wig and in the past has put my make up on. My DS is blonde and fair and I would have no problem if he wanted to do the same in reverse. I do feel people need to get a grip...

JustAHolyFool Fri 04-Jan-13 14:03:57

I don't really get that argument. So if someone says the word "nigger" or "paki" in your company, you don't say anything?

I'd hope men would say something if someone says women deserve to be raped if they're wearing a short skirt. In the same way, if someone says "paki", I will tell them that a lot of people don't like that word and that it makes them sound racist.

PiccadillyCervix Fri 04-Jan-13 14:05:33

I cant stand it when those on the offence try to clamp down on the (accepted) use by everyone else though

See this is the problem, you seem to think black face is acceptable by the rest of the world. It really really isn't. It's almost always considered racist. You can try and rationalize all you like, but I genuinely don't think most people on this thread would walk in to predominately black area with black face on. Because they know it probably wouldn't go down well.

gonna leave this thread now

Jins Fri 04-Jan-13 14:07:17

No I would speak up but I'd always be hoping that someone else spoke up who was less polite than I am

HoHoHoNoYouDont Fri 04-Jan-13 14:10:39

Good post titty

JustAHolyFool Fri 04-Jan-13 14:11:19

Well you've just totally contradicted yourself then Jins because in your last post you said that you let people say what they wanted without comment.

There is nothing polite about accepting racist language.

tittytittyhanghang Fri 04-Jan-13 14:14:23

I don't really get that argument. So if someone says the word "nigger" or "paki" in your company, you don't say anything?

Well it depends if they were using it in a derogatory manner or not. I don't think its that hard to tell the difference.

Jins Fri 04-Jan-13 14:15:51

Yeah I know. I'm not doing well with words generally today. sad

I do generally speak up. If someone is being a complete arse like many on this thread then I leave them as long as possible so everyone can see what an arse they are.

Proudnscaryvirginmary Fri 04-Jan-13 14:16:27

Was that a joke titty? How can you say the word nigger in a non derogatory manner?

JustAHolyFool Fri 04-Jan-13 14:17:17

Well it depends if they were using it in a derogatory manner or not. I don't think its that hard to tell the difference.

I'm struggling to find an example of someone using either of those words in a manner that isn't derogatory really. In any case, it is reducing someone to the facts of their race and nothing more.

I'm not talking about examples of black people reclaiming the word "nigger". That's something completely different in my view and a far more complicated issue than the one we're talking about here.

PiccadillyCervix Fri 04-Jan-13 14:31:37


I guess titty means the OK uses like pakishop or going for a chinky hmm

seeker Fri 04-Jan-13 14:36:12

HolyFool- don't forget that racists almost always have loads of black friends who don't mind a bit if they are called "nigger" in affectionate tones. Oh, and remember Prince Harry's "little Paki friend". He laughed like anything every time he was called that, because he's got a sense of humour, unlike us po faced, kill joy guardianistas.

DreamingOfTheMaldives Fri 04-Jan-13 14:57:34

*Solidgold - I think that probably the reason the boy's parents thought this was OK and didn't consider the possiblity of others seeing racist connotations in it was down to the difference between dressing up as a known individual you admire and dressing up as a stereotype of another race. I think it's fairly likely that other non-Afro-Carribean people have dressed themselves or their DC up as Will.I. Am/Mo Farah/Lenny Henry from time to time and used facepaint as part of the outfit, without having been caught in the act by someone who wanted to start a shitstorm

And as a general rule I think that going beserk at people who have made a well-intentioned blunder or been a bit thoughtless or poorly informed is a really crap way to promote greater tolerance and understanding. It makes the squawkers feel all good and smug and politically correct and righteous, makes the person who did whatever feel silly and humiliated and angry and sad - and quite often makes members of the group allegedly 'insulted' by whatever it was feel patronized and alienated*

Composhat - Agree with every word written! Well argued solidgold I think the comparison with what this lad and his parents did emulating a specific person who happened to be black and with black-face and or getting dressed up as a sterotype of another race is incredibly dimwitted or down right mischief making.

I completely agree with you both Solidgold and Composhat

BigSpork Fri 04-Jan-13 19:57:14

I think the issue in these types of conversations is how the concept of racism/being racist is perceived.

It is commonly portrayed in white media and by white people as a conscious purposeful act, like murder, something done to someone, an individual act to hurt or be offended by or not. This is reductive, ignoring how institutional and ingrained it is within our society, ignoring how it tinges our reality and our perception of it. This article by resistracism fleshes out this idea better.

It's similar to sexism - as a woman it is easy to see the old boy's network that prevents access, the constant micro aggression against myself as a person, the disturbing representations in the media, the violence which is accepted in the media and by society, the concerns/thoughts/plans for my safety that men do not have to deal with, the treatment of my words as not as human as a man's. I've pointed it out to many men who completely miss it until it is pointed out - it's not a part of their mental framework.

It's the same here with racism (or xenophobia, or heterosexism, or cisexism, or ableism, pick an oppression dynamic), there is a historical network preventing accessing, safety concerns that others do not have to deal with, the treatment as less than human, issues with representation in media and elsewhere (repeated studies show that people believe fictional representations even more than non-fictional ones, in the latter people are more on their guard), and continuously grating micro aggression that wear people down, on top of the violence and what is normally seen as "racist" actions. I've had to point it out to white friends, and my white partner, who would never have noticed it, it isn't part of the framework and it's emphasised in an education system which boosts white (mostly male) achievements and whitewashes and ignores the achievements of other groups. It's dehumanizing from the big to the small, reinforcing the system. That is what "blacking up" is, it is reinforcing the system that allows this.

The news and governments and NGOs add to it. There was a sad article recently interviewing Congolese women discussing how they had to emphasis their rape statistics because that's what aid groups wanted to hear and what gave them access to aid, discussing a lack of representation and power - which leads to the dehumanisation that leads to rape - or social preventions doesn't get them anything. It's sad that they have to play the system/stereotype to get white agencies and governments to help because they are too blind in thinking they are good to see the racism that they are reinforcing and forcing others to reinforce for them.

sunshine401 Sat 05-Jan-13 21:14:16

Absolutely. The Americans have never had power over the Scots but the English have so it IS more offensive when an English person does it.

I am a Black British citizen my parents are African who moved to the UK about 4 years before the birth of my older brother. The above statement is ridiculous on all accounts no one has any right to offend anyone because of race. Regardless of what has happened in the past to their own race/gender.
I have no right to be more offended by someone calling me a so and so black blah , then a white person being offended by me calling them a so and so white blah.
It is about the times we live in now not what our previous generations have done to harm others race.
Again though in this situation I do not find it at all racist. Its way to blown out of proportion. It is a young child being like his hero nothing more to it.

creighton Sat 05-Jan-13 23:12:45

''It is about the times we live in now not what our previous generations have done to harm others race.''

we are still affected today by what previous generations did to other races/people. for anyone to say this is not true is wrong. the way people are perceived now is still affected by what happened in the past.

seeker Sun 06-Jan-13 00:04:02

I agree with living in now too. that means treating other people with respect, and avoiding blacking up if at all possible.

Pendeen Sun 06-Jan-13 00:29:06

"I do ask people to apologise when they mess up rather than make excuses"

That's very generous of you..

How can you explain when someone has "messed up" and how do you decide if it's an excuse or an explanation? Why is your opinion so superior?

There are no absolutes.

Different perspectives and to a large extent, different experiences.

Someone from an urban, mixed race area such as London or Birmingham would find their views were regarded as completely alien in a remote, rural environment.

(Yes I am irritated by attitudes such as yours).

BigSpork Sun 06-Jan-13 00:49:27

Living in the now (or at least within the last year):

The British Home Office took 14 weeks to get a Black British citizen home from Syria even they knew he was undergoing torture. There have been repeated cases that show the Home Office does far more for White British citizens abroad and working for White Brits here on cases with other countries than it does for other groups. We have members of the Met being shown on recording to be racially and physically abusing. The stats and studies for racism within the police , who are meant to protect everyone, are stomach churning

The often quoted pay gap is only referring to White people. Black and South East Asians earn considerably less with Chinese (and likely other Pacific Asians) Women earning the least of all. This PDF has helpful information on it with tables close to the end with easy to read data points.

Africa's resources are being grabbed again by multinationals backed by their governments and the amount one company avoids in tax each year is more than the aid to that country from other governments (most aid to African countries comes from other African countries). The IMF's policy towards African countries is strangling them, their own economists tell them so, but the current policy makes White countries more money. It's continuing the power dynamic by going on about how we live in the now rather than the past, but when the current is a continuation of it, even when farther behind the scenes than before, it still causes a major problem,. Another major problem is the media representation which only goes on about the poverty and hunger (when from 1990-2000 only 3/10ths of 1% were affected by famine) and corruption regardless of our own corruption or how out governments feed it. The media'#s continuous portrayals affect perceptive and this affects how people are treated today. Colonialism causes a lot of financial and personal pain even without getting into neo-colonial issues.

As the world leaders and the source of a lot of our media, the US is an important place to look at as well. Every 36 hours a Black person is killed in the US by a police officer or other authority figure and every 40 hours one dies from these wounds. This has included Black children sleeping in their beds and unarmed innocent man having 90 shots fired at him. The much talked about "stand your ground" laws only apply if you are white passing, all other cases have failed and more severely punished. What many don't know is that in 13th amendment preventing slavery in the States makes exceptions for those convicted of a crime, just after it was ratified it was very common for Black people and Indigenous people to be convicted for random stuff to use them as slaves, and although America doesn't allow known slave/prison made objects to be imported pretty much all non-weapon military and many other household components are made by prison labour. The prison system in the States is designed to use non-white people as slave labour, it makes a lot of money. And no one is standing up to them doing it and this mentality flows into their media representations which is why TV/movies have been shown to lower the self esteem of everyone but white boys.

Repeating myself: People are harassed, abused, degraded, and treated as less than, today... People are killed for their skin colour and the association with it, today (a man was pushed off of a train platform because of his skin colour, the woman thought it was okay because it's alright to hate anyone South East Asian or Arabic looking because of terrorism). Speaking about these things as if they are all in the past invalidates and ignores the pain people go through, today, and prevents recognising and fixing the problem tomorrow (can't fix what you can't see).

HoHoHoNoYouDont Sun 06-Jan-13 00:55:59

FFS can't believe this one is still going.

<<wanders off to watch paint dry>>

BigSpork Sun 06-Jan-13 01:02:10

Pendeen: If an individual tells you that you have messed up and caused them pain, you have messed up and caused them pain. It won't be the same for everyone, no one has the same dynamics and every group is made up of individuals, but if you hurt someone, you apologise - not go "well, so-and-so doesn't see the problem with it/prefers to be called X so I don't see why you have an issue/want to be called Y" or "That's not really important compared to...". You mess up, you apologise for hurting someone, kids can get this but adults make so many excuses and defensive barriers as if the discomfort and irritation of being called out on how the racist ideas of society have affected you is somehow worse than the actions of racism, like blacking up, which are triggering and distressing to a lot of people. Why would you want 5to do something known to be triggering with its previous and current usage to hurt people. Minimise the pain and burden, our own wants and desires to do something shouldn't come before someone's pain.

JustAHolyFool Sun 06-Jan-13 01:38:52

HoHoHoNoYouDont if people are interested in talking about it, why shouldn't they? It seems a little mean-spirited to suggest that it's boring to do that.

wigornian Mon 07-Jan-13 14:34:50

seeker how very patronising. Get over yourself, am actually a pretty intelligent person, and know quite a bit about history, actually. I just do not find black, or white dolls offensive - and lots of sensible people agree with me. You'd no doubt be scandalised to hear that I bought the Gollywogs at our local sub-post office. To be honst, the attitude you display offends me more than any mindless racist ranting.

Please do not presume to tell me how I should feel, and then imply that if I do not feel like that, that I must be ignorant!

Pendeen Mon 07-Jan-13 15:49:47

BigSpork that is not necessarily the case.

My point about regional as well as personal perspective is probably more relevant to your contention.

BigSpork Tue 08-Jan-13 12:50:47

What is not necessarily the case?

Regions are made of people who should adapt and challenge their thinking and have their thinking challenged if we are ever going to improve things. If someone said or did something hurtful to me, no matter where I am, I don't learn that this is what acceptable there, I just learn not to trust them or that area. Just like I don't use one of the local park during the school run and holidays because of the xenophobic crap that has happened to me and my children so often during those times. Just like I don't sit outside on the benches of the community hall when my daughter is in GirlGuides because every time I have men have shouted at me from cars. Neither of those are acceptable behaviours, no matter where you are, but I have to change myself to suit oppressors to protect myself and my kids. So if someone in my circle does or says something hurtful, I will call them out on it and expect them to apologise and learn (or I learn not to trust them), because I don't want them going and hurting someone else and claim ignorance or treat my silence as acceptance and use me as a excuse to do hurtful things. Because that crap happens.

There is a difference between someone making a mistake like in this story and those who do these things actively knowing the harm and contributing to the generalizing and stereotypes that get us harassed, abused, and killed. That is an absolute - people kill other people because of the stereotypes and generalizations that they prove in their head and the media feeds that. The difference between a mistake and someone who doesn't see the problem is hurting others they see as less than human is easy to see because the former is willing to apologise and listen and the other will never listen and play 'it's not me, it's them' bingo - they all say variation of the same stuff which is helpful in learning how to avoid and who not to trust.

MrsBethel Tue 08-Jan-13 14:24:56


This clearly isn't racist. It's affectionate. The boy's enjoying playing at being his hero. El Hadji Diouf looks happy. What's the problem? (There isn't one.)

If anything, the nay-sayers are bring racist in making such a big deal about it.

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