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Ok Gucci, Here's a lesson on Blackface


Are you one of the people who didn't understand what was wrong with Megan Kelly saying she didn't see anything wrong with darkening your skin for a Halloween costume? Well, you might find this beneficial.

Gucci. This sweater-jumper-turtleneck thing is a poor excuse to use blackface, at least Halloween makes a little sense.

1. Who wants to walk around like this (blackface or not)?

2. This is not fashion

Gucci, do better. I'll come back to you in a moment. But first, if you have no idea what blackface is here's your black history lesson for the day.

This is blackface.

In the mid to late 19th century there were these things called minstrel shows, not to be mistaken for anything having to do with a woman's menstrual cycle. Minstrel shows were a form of entertainment that included comedy sketches, singing, dancing, skits, etc. put on by white people with black paint on their faces as to depict black people (I guess they found us funny). They depicted black people basically as caricatures of themselves; overly exaggerated lips and skin complexions. This was how white people were entertained. Oddly enough, when black people were allowed to perform at minstrel shows, they too were often seen performing in blackface. Black people were forced to paint their skin extra black and their lips large and red because white attendees preferred to see them perform this way. In many cases this was the only way black people were able to break into the entertainment industry... as an exaggerated version of themselves. What's funny, or not so funny about this is we can still see the remnants of this today. It seems that in the entertainment industry in order to attract a white audience, or for the white audience to find us entertaining it sometimes has to be an exaggerated version of who we are: Have you every seen a movie or TV show where it seemed like the black supporting actor was extra loud, always cracking jokes, or stereotypically "ghetto"? Well that's what I am referring to...think Madea movies, Tiffany Haddish (no shade to them, get your money!) This is not something I'm stating as factual, it's just an observation (It used to be worse in the 90's, I think we are doing a LOT better now).

Tip: next time you see one of these movies or shows ask yourself if you are laughing with them or at them.

Bringing things current, people often want to darken their skin to enhance their Halloween costumes. Do you know how many black people dress up as white people for Halloween and don't lighten their skin??? Basically, everyone. Honestly, darkening your skin won't actually make you look anymore like the real character, save yourself from the twitter dragging, losing your job, and wasting your money on makeup. Blackface is EXTREMELY offensive because our very features were made a mockery of. Slave owners showed "favoritism" to lighter complected slaves with less prominent features causing darker slaves to despise lighter slaves. Then things like blackface came along to further reinforce the idea that dark skin and full lips were undesirable. If you are not black you probably have NO IDEA the number this has done on the black community. For years black people were made to feel like our skin - the largest organ in the human body was flawed, our hair needed to be straightened because white people could not understand it, and if you had lips that were fuller than white people were comfortable with, it was humorous. Black people are still fighting against colorism today within our own community and it stems from things like this. So, for you to add to an ongoing problem that white people started centuries ago, by reminding us of a time when we were forced to sing and dance in a painted on mask (for sheer entertainment's sake) because white people did not want to see black people as human, you are doing us all a disservice by setting us back.

I don't expect non-black people to really know the breath and depth of blackface because it is not something that is taught in school, and I'm sure it's not the hot topic at your dinner tables, so I hope you find this brief lesson useful. I am throughly convinced that our textbooks and curriculum need to be changed to actually teach our nation's real history-not the watered down version; not to insight guilt, but to prevent ignorance. Blackface is more than just a "joke" or something fun to do to enhance a costume. It is digging up a painful past that we are desperately trying to heal from and it shows signs that some white people feel entitled to do so, signs that belittling another human is ok.

Gucci is an Italian designer so some people might want to give them a pass for "not knowing", but I would suggest that someone on the design department at least had a working knowledge of blackface in order to design something as stupid as this...why didn't it come in other shades? Right. This is disgusting. Black people, especially wealthy black Americans give millions of dollars to Gucci every year and have been doing so since the 80's and early 90's when Dapper Dan made it popular. This is distasteful and disrespectful and if you are THAT ignorant you should consider hiring more people of color in high level positions.

Happy Black History Month


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