Why does the racist legacy of blackface endure?

Practice of darkening skin to portray people of other races is rooted in racism. 

Blackface, though, isn’t just an embarrassing episode of the past. It continues to appear in popular culture, media and advertising around the world. Blackface characters in Europe, including “Black Pete” in the Netherlands and Belgium’s “Le Sauvage” , have sparked protest from anti-racism activists and raised questions over how these traditions impact their respective communities of colour.

Blackface started in the United States in 19th-century minstrel shows where white actors donned black makeup to demean African Americans. The practice was accepted as mainstream American entertainment and became a cultural export.

We’ll discuss the legacy of blackface and learn more about its roots in racism.

On this episode of The Stream, we speak with: 

Jerry Afriyie @TheRebelThePoet
Poet and human rights activist

Charmaine Nelson
Professor of art history, McGill University

Leila Day @leiladayleila 
Host & producer of “The Stoop: Stories from the Black Diaspora”