In today’s edition of ‘Steal Our Culture, Reject Our Problems,’ Instagram influencer Ghadeer Sultran has been accused of rockin’ blackface in a series of Instagram posts. While she was called out for her photos being inappropriate and completely racist, I am curious to know why blackface continues to happen despite the backlash received by society.
Blackface occurs when a person who does not identify as Black uses makeup to darken their skin tone. Historically, the theatrical style of makeup was used to mock and ridicule people of color. It was the one way caucasians could entertain themselves at the expense of Black people.
With the rich history that people of color have in America, it is a consensus that blackface is offensive and racist. The countless empty apologies issued by white actors, actresses, singers, creative directors, models, and entertainers for donning darker makeup, bigger lips, and exaggerated features prove that this is wrong and done in poor taste.
Now we have a newer generation of beauty influencers who capitalize off of creating makeup looks with darker skin tones and ethnic features. This practice has been described as ‘blackfishing’. Based on their Instagram photos, they’ve adapted a racially ambiguous persona when in fact, they are everyday white women with an extra heavy hand on the darker foundation sticks.
It’s just makeup though, right? The issue lies far beyond the innocent gesture of admiring ethnic features. As our features, skin tone, and culture get appropriated, men and women of color are being harassed, shot, and killed simply for having a single drop of melanin. The notion that you can appropriate a culture and ignore their struggle is disrespectful to the people who suffer daily for existing.
Before we support people who find no fault in mimicking our style, ask yourself if they are willing to take on the struggle. Are they prepared to be racially profiled? Are they ready to be told their hair is too black to be a part of a TV show? Can they handle having the cops called on them because they walked into their building only to be met with a white neighbor who feels unsafe because of their presence? Why should anyone be able to paint their faces black and bypass struggle that comes along with it?