I think we need to have a blackface detoxing of workplaces and public spaces where public officials lead or manage Black people. After the blackface extravaganza in Virginia, I think we need just need to ask point blank, who else? White men have really been doing the most in life — and not in a good way.
I just can’t even believe how many stupid White people are out here with blackface pics as recent as last year back to the 70s and 80s (yes, if folks are painting your face Black to mock Whites they are stupid).
It’s time for all the casual racism to be revealed — all at once. It’s time for all the White men and women who have adorned blackfaces in their lives to be revealed (only if there is a photo out there — check your friends). Black folks need to know what most White people used to think of us (or perhaps they still do). We don’t want you smiling in our faces when you’ve stabbed us in our backs. And we damn sure don’t want to help you achieve your goals when you possibly have placed racist boulders on our shoulders.
Why Blackface Revelations Are Necessary
Plainly put, we need to know what your intentions are. Black people need to know if you are a self-narcissist seeking to grab power at our expense with no real intention of helping us improve our lots in life. We need to be able to see you understand how harmful and racist your actions are. Your lack of self-awareness back then causes us to question your self-awareness today, especially if you don’t have a track record of being down with us or looking out for our interests.
I’ll admit, I like to know my evil. I prefer a Trump racist any day over you closeted bigots. I appreciate the types of racists who will go on the record and stupidly post his/her racism for the world to see. That’s one dangerous bigot I can avoid. I value the fact that people will adorn swastikas, Klan robes, attend racist rallies where they are being videotaped or live streamed, and today the good old MAGA hats — because yes, a little red had with four words on it is simply another symbol of racism.
Black people need to know all of our prospective dangers. With all the blackface reveals going on by White men, which highlights their apparent ignorance and disdain for Black skin, it’s appropriate for you to reveal yourselves to us. You had no reason to degrade or devalue us in such a manner. Black people aren’t going around mimicking White faces, so we’d love to hear your explanation for continuing with the crude fetish.
We also must question your decision-making skills going forward if you’re planning on leading us. Black folks will need to trace White paths throughout college and professional careers to ensure reformed blackfacers haven’t intentionally or inadvertently harmed us. We won’t leave any stone unturned.
Coming forward on your own about your own blackface fetish is much better than having someone blackmail you with it later — trust me.
Ways To Redeem Yourselves After Blackface Revelation
If you have blackface in your background, here’s some advice on how to handle it.
- Tell on your own ass — Don’t let the cat come out of the back via the news, especially if you supervise, lead, or work closely with Black communities. Come to us and tell us first, otherwise, you appear to be hiding the “old you.” Since we won’t know who you really are after that disclosure, we will need time to unpack your revelation, get over our hurt, and figure out where we’re going forward. We need to know if you’re an ally or an enemy. It’s like a break up almost — what do you expect?
- Don’t ask us for forgiveness — Many Black people are sick and tired of forgiving White people — who go on after the bad-bad to benefit from their misdeeds with little or no punishment. You blackface wearer asking Black folks to forgive you is not really sincere. It’s like asking a rape victim to forgive you immediately after you’ve raped her/her. It’s simply not rational. Put yourself in our shoes. Your reveal is all about you and not about us — so don’t ask. You need to stew in your stupidity and learn what humiliation feels like. We wear humiliation every day as the least liked and least respected population in the nation.
- Go to a Black church — The Black church will forgive and welcome you. You will have to look at some mean mugs in the congregation who won’t be having any of your shit — but you gotta work through your shit. It’s a consequence of being a dumb ass. You made life hard for yourself, so deal with it.
- Get some Black friends — Get some Black friends. It’s going to be hard because we probably won’t be fucking with you that much after you reveal you wore blackface — but there are some people who believe in second chances. You need to go to there homes to break bread, yes eat at their tables. Hang out in their neighborhoods, learn about their families. Visit their places of worship. Immerse yourselves in the lives and communities of Black people. Learn their histories. See how White people have made life hard for your new found Black friends. Don’t forget to ask them to tell you the specific ways they’ve been harmed by Whiteness. I’m sure you’ll get an earful!
- Marinate in shame — You are (or you were) a racist. It was your little White peoples’ secret until you exposed yourself. You should be ashamed. Now you know how we feel when you mock our looks for no reason. You knew what you were doing was wrong, but you did it anyway. While blackface is not criminal, it is socially not acceptable, which is why you did it in secret. You don’t get a get-out-of-jail-free card for this. Your feelings are not as important as the people you hurt with your actions — your feelings are absolutely irrelevant. You did not care about the feelings of Black people when you did your blackface trope — the feeling is mutual when it comes to your shame. Stew in it.
- Apologize, but only if you’ve changed — Don’t apologize if you don’t mean it. If you don’t have plans to change or if your apology is motivated by your future only — save it. We know a fake apology a mile away. Again, we are tired of your apology for racism. After 400 years, you should know better and understand why it’s wrong (which I why I call the White people who do it STUPID). Your apology should come only after much reflection and understanding how that old racist trope hurts us and not because you feel bad. If your apology is given because you feel bad and not because you made us feel bad — then save it for another time. Again, we know bullshit apologies. Your people give them to us all the time (i.e. Rep. Steve King).
- Stay out of our faces for a while — When you tell us about your blackface debacle, can you go hide out for a few weeks/months? Take a leave of absence. Resign. Go to racist rehab. Do what rich folks do when they are trying to escape trouble. Get out of our faces. Out of sight, out of mind. We have so much trauma — we really need several Black trauma holidays. I know you won’t understand, but trust me — the sooner you leave, the sooner the healing can begin and we can reconcile faster. If you are smug and being an asshole narcissist thinking you’re entitled to your position and the power you falsely secured — well, we are going to have problems. Get out of our faces, just leave us be.
- Get some Black history in your White life — I know you likely went to White schools, studied Whitewashed Black history (if you studied it at all) lived in White communities, went to the White churches, and did all the White stuff in your sanitized little White world. You need to get some Black history in your life. Visit Black history museums to learn about our history. Buy books written by Black authors, get a different perspective, attend local Black history events — there is a lot to learn in your own communities, and study the awful, derogatory history of blackface. Singing about how good a slave’s life is — is bullshit!
- Burn your blackface photos — treat those things like the naked pics you sent to your ex and you’d like to recall. Burn them, delete them, buy them off your friends, scrub the internet for old blackface pics, have someone do a scrub of your history, and get rid of your pics after you disclose your dumb deed. You deserve to clean start. Hope the internet doesn’t hold any grudges.
- Seek racism training — You need to discover biases you don’t have. Make sure it’s taught by White and Black people so that you can get taught by people you respect more (Whites) with the context that can only be given by the people you likely have harmed with your covert bias (Blacks). Register today — don’t forget to tell us about it. It goes toward your proof of repentance.
There is never going to be a good time to let the cat out of the bag. Whenever you tell us about those Blackface pics, we’re going to have a problem. But as long as you’re willing to do the work and pay penance for your sins, we can possibly forgive you. Now you should note — we are never forgetting it, no matter how nice you treat us and no matter how many Black history programs you attend. The cloud of suspicion will always hang over your head.
While we know people can change — racism is like a mental illness, it’s hard to change without some form of treatment like counseling, a change in lifestyle, or medication. Blacks folks are fully aware that it’s impossible sometimes to get people to turn away from racism. Time will tell. The way you speak to us will tell us everything we need to know about you. If there is more “I” in your conversation and less “The Black community,” then you still have a casual racism problem.
If you aren’t able to give Black folks a treatment plan for how you overcame your racist tendencies and blackface dumbassedness — then you aren’t reformed. Go back and re-do steps 1–10 and try again.
Marley K, February 2019