An African-American man wore a generic white-person mask at a costume party I attended two Saturdays ago.
The costume was kind of amusing. It certainly didn’t appear to offend anybody at the party, which consisted of about 25 whites, 25 Hispanics, and 2 African-Americans.
“I guess it’s okay for a black person to wear a white face in public,” I said to a friend of mine at the party. “But if a white person wore a black face there’d be hell to pay.”
Sure enough, the Dallas Morning News is reporting that Dallas Cowboys cheerleader Whitney Isleib is getting slammed after Facebook photos allegedly show her at a Halloween costume party dressed as Lil Wayne, including dreads, gold teeth, and black makeup.
Isleib, a white woman, is “getting attacked on blogs nationwide,” according to the Morning News.
Deadspin has the pictures here, with a caption that says, “When are people going to learn that you cannot upload photos to your Facebook page if you don’t want them to get out? What we have here (allegedly) is a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader dressed as Lil’ Wayne. In blackface.”
That’s a crock.
Blackface refers to the tradition of white entertainers like Al Jolsen donning makeup that makes them look black, and talking in exaggerated black idiom and singing “Mammy” and stuff. While an accepted form of comedy at one time, blackface was considered highly racist by the mid-20th Century.
Isleib, however, dressed as a specific black entertainer. She went as Lil’ Wayne. What’s the big deal? It’s a costume party after all.
Even more interesting is that other Facebook photos on the same site show white women dressed in traditional Mexican garb and wearing brown makeup and fake facial hair. Where’s the outrage there? And in between those two women is a black woman who also appears to be dressed as a Latino.
So what’s racially insulting and what isn’t?
Tyra Banks, a black talk show host and former supermodel, recently put white models in dark makeup for a photo shoot on America’s Next Top Model.
Last month, a white model appeared in dark makeup in French Vogue.
The phenomenon prompted Vibe to ask, “Is blackface the new black?“
The black dude wearing a white mask at the party I attended recently was young, about 20. Isleib is 21. Partygoers in the Facebook photos all appear to be in their 20s.
Maybe young folks today think about race differently. Maybe the races have evolved to the point where they can dress as each other at costume parties without anybody being offended except for Facebook busybodies and media muckrackers.