WoodlawnWonder wrote a post about blackface a couple days ago, about how, every Halloween, there are inevitably some people who think it's okay to wear blackface, despite the fact that it is INCREDIBLY racist. How did people miss this memo? Did they sleep through those history classes?
After I read her blog post, I stumbled across a website that someone shared on a forum. This happened back in April, at the Nebraska Christian Home Educators Association Kids Conference , and I must admit, I was shocked when I saw the pictures. They had some of the teens playing the role of ignorant, savage Africans--in blackface.
This is a screenshot from the first link in question.
I also heard reports that the said Africans spoke their language by "babbling incoherently," but I have not been able to independently confirm that. So, take that as you will.
My first thoughts were, A) Don't wear blackface. B) are there no black homeschoolers they could have auditioned for the part? What about neighbors or church members? Friends? C) Don't wear blackface!
After all, when white people dress up as Native Americans, they don't rub their skin pasty white skin with brown pigment. Instead they dress as the stereotypical chief. Why did they feel the need to paint themselves black in addition to their costume?
And don't get me started on the whole costume issue. Instead, I'll refer you to Ohio University's "We're a Culture, not a Costume" ad campaign.
All this reminds me of all the stereotypes about deaf or hard of hearing people. I still see people saying, "deaf and mute," or "deaf and dumb" online, including news articles. News articles. Perhaps there should be a mandatory cultural sensitivity class for all news reporters. And how the hell did some editors overlook the derogatory terms? (Feel free to share some of the other offensive words you've heard or seen in the comments. )
I've also noticed how, when we're talking about the economy and low-wage workers, people start blaming "illegal immigrants" and start assuming that many Mexican-Americans are "illegals" and stealing the jobs of others. I highly suspect that the continuing doubters (birthers) of President Obama's American citizenship has to do with the fact that he is black.
It's not all about race or cultures, though. Don't forget the big uproar about the mosque at Ground Zero. People protested vigorously against the new Islamic Center, yet they didn't seem to have a problem with titty bars that were even closer to the place where many lives perished. There still are restaurants who refuse to serve people who look Jewish. There are people who attack the Catholic belief because they're not the "proper sort of Christians." There are so many people who profess to love their neighbor and yet discriminate against GLBTQ people.
I find it amazing that, all the way in 2011, people are still acting like racists and bigots. Yet, it exists. This one website gives you many real-life examples, submitted by recipients of "microaggressions," which often take the form of gender, sexual, or racial statements that offend, even if that is not the speaker's intent.
As WoodlawnWonder said in her blog,
Yet, whether we want to admit it or not, we all have made racial missteps and been culturally insensitive.
Indeed, there are some people who are downright ignorant. Perhaps, just perhaps, the homeschoolers were ignorant when it comes to the history of slavery and racism in the United States. Still, I find it incomprehensible that the participants in the NCHEA never heard about how offensive blackface is, especially the teenagers and adults. Usually by the time we reach high school we have learned several times over about the ills of racism. It honestly makes me wonder about the quality of their textbooks and their education.
It's people like them that make the rest of the homeschooling community look bad, the blackface wearers makes white people look bad, and all of the hateful words and actions toward Muslims, Jews, and Catholics that make Christians or Protestants look bad.
Just remember, though, that we ought not return the favor of offensive behavior (i.e. don't call a racist a redneck.) We also should avoid making broad generalizations, like "all Muslims are terrorists" or "all homeschoolers are idiots," because it's simply not true. One person may be, but they all are not. Those sort of knee-jerk reactions just sucks us into a downward spiral of hate.