Macklemore - White Privilege
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Here’s a fun fact: every time an Australian “larrikin” oversteps the mark in terms of depictions of people of colour, we all have to tweet, write a blog, and engage in a conversation with our white peers about racism.
If by fun you mean batshit crazy.
Mia Freedman and the rest of ignorant Australia, stop this fucking madness.
I’m serious here you guys, it’s getting old and you’re embarrassing my white friends.
Earlier this week, pop icon Delta Goodrem drew negative attention from those of us with a social conscience by retweeting a photograph which depicted fans dressed up to emulate the judges on the Australian version of trashy reality television show The Voice.
The twitpic that Delta thought was ‘hilarious’ showed four white males: two dressed as Ricky Martin and Joel Madden in fairly normal attire; one in drag representing Delta Goodrem and one with his face and arms blackened to appear black like Seal.
After receiving a small amount of attention from twitter and the Australian media, mummy-blogger Mia Freedman decided to write an article on the fiasco.
Freedman, in her article entitled ‘The Boy Who Cried Racist’, went to Delta’s support stating that Delta had received “social media backlash” after the retweet, which included “accusations that the guy dressed as Seal was in ‘blackface’”.
Now, I’m not sure about the extent of the so-called social media backlash (because quite frankly the twitterverse was a lot quieter on this issue than they have been on race related topics in the past) but I’m pretty sure you’ve got to be pretty stupid to think that when a white man “blackens up” to depict a character, it’s questionable as to whether or not it’s considered blackface.
In the words of Freedman, she believes that “there is a huge difference between painting your face black to mock an entire race and painting yourself black to respectfully dress up as someone who has black skin”.
Hrmm, now this sounds familiar. Where could I have heard this argument before? Oh that’s right, pretty much every time someone’s ethnicity or culture is appropriated by a white person who get’s called out for being racist.
Freedman, Goodrem, guy who blackened up in the twitpic – it is not 1903 anymore. It is 2013 and we, as informed adults recognise that ignorance is no excuse for offensive behavior.
Whether you like it or not, the practice of painting your face black to depict a person of colour has history and context that covers your ignorance with shame.
And before you step up and say it has no context here, let me re-direct you to this blog which quotes Aboriginal woman Jirra Harvey talking about the history of blackface in Australia.
So Freedman, if you are indeed having one of those “has the world gone mad?’ moments” that you described in your article, I’m having another one of those “I need a strong drink and a lie down moments”.
In the same way that women don’t see it as a man’s place to dictate what constitutes sexism, I argue that members of the white majority, however progressive they think they are, have no right to deem themselves the arbiters on what racism is or is not.
While I don’t personally believe that ditzy Delta is racist or has any prejudices against people of colour, I don’t support brushing the endorsement of a blackface image under the table just because she didn’t think it was offensive.
We do know better and should expect more from those in our community that have a high profile and influence especially those like Delta whose main fan base is made up of children, tweens and teens.
As Freedman challenged her readers to “not be The Boy Who Cried Racist”, I challenge you to not be like Freedman or Goodrem aka “the girls who cried ignorance”.
Blackface is unacceptable and Australia, we can do better.