I am about to share an opinion that is not going to be popular. Unfortunately, that has never stopped me from having opinions before, and it’s not stopping me now. So, here we go, I hope you are strapped down comfortably for this one. Also, please stop reading right now if you can not have an open mind about this topic, I want to open this to have an intelligent conversation and perhaps challenge my own views, and if you can not do the same thing, please feel free to click the “x” and go about your day elsewhere. Thanks.
As you can probably tell from my obvious title, my topic today is racism. Right now, for those of you who do not follow YouTube at all, there is a lot of hullabaloo (yup, that’s my word choice) surrounding Shane Dawson’s use of “black face” in his portrayal of African American people such as Wendy Williams and Raven Symone. A lot of people are saying Shane is racist for his doing this. I do not agree. Now please, set down your torches and pitchforks, and hear me out. Remember, open mind.
The reason I do not agree that Shane is a racist is simple. Shane, in using the “black face” or bronzer or what ever he actually uses, is using it in an attempt to portray these celebrities. He is not trying to humiliate anyone, he is not being malicious, he is acting. While I have a lot of sympathy for African Americans (is it even still pc to use that term?) I feel like perhaps it is possible to take things too far. There are people everywhere who portray celebrities ALL THE TIME. White, African american, Hispanic, Latino, Middle Eastern… we have all imitated a celeb at one point or another. Some people, with a bit more talent, actually make a living out of doing this. There are celeb impersonators everywhere. To say that Shane, being white, can not impersonate a celebrity who happens to be African American is, well, I can not think of the word I would like to use here… I feel like, if we want everyone to be equal, if we want equality, then everyone has to be TREATED equally. Yes. Horrible things were done, slavery was an atrocious thing. It can never be undone, history can not be rewritten, no matter how much we mourn, no matter how much we talk about it, we can not change the past. We CAN, however, move forward. Learn from the past, learn from our mistakes and become better. Do better. Several months ago, Nick Cannon came out in “white face”. To me, in my mind, that is the same as “black face”. No, historically, it was not used to degrade or humiliate anyone, however using either of these products to portray someone of a different race amounts to the same thing. It is acting. It is impersonating someone. Whether something is racist, in my opinion, lies in the intent. If someone is intentionally attempting to degrade someone based on their race, THAT is racism. If someone is just showing their love of a celebrity through their talents, and they are not trying to be disrespectful, I do not think it should be seen as disrespect. I know a lot of people who walk up to their friends and greet them by saying things like “hey, hoeface” or “what’s up, asshole?”. The intent is what is important in deciding whether these words are offensive. We keep screaming for equality. Equality for women, equality for LGBTQ, equality for all races. When are we really going to want equality and not special treatment? Because that is what this is. We do not ask people not to wear “white face”. We don’t trash African Americans who dress as “white” characters for Halloween, but when Julianne Hough dresses as “Crazy Eyes” from Orange is the New Black because she is her favorite character, she gets slammed for it. I just don’t think that is right.
I am going to leave off with the words of Morgan Freeman in his interview on 60 Minutes “Stop talking about it. I’m going to stop calling you a white man. And I’m going to ask you to stop calling me a black man. I know you as Mike Wallace. You know me as Morgan Freeman. You’re not going to say, “I know this white guy named Mike Wallace.” Hear what I’m saying?”