An 8-year-old in Colorado Springs dressed up as Martin Luther King Jr. for a school project, including painting his face, which I’m not even going to call blackface even though I know I called it blackface in the post title because that’s called JOURNALISM, but setting aside whether or not it was a wise decision, or whether or not his parents should have explained some things to him, he isn’t carrying on the long legacy of racial hatred in this country with his BOOK REPORT, but so he got kicked out of school and everyone’s head is falling off. There are people who support him, and people who think it was wrong. Supposedly the facepaint offended some students, which sounds like some bullshit. Other 8-year-olds got mad? No. Other 8 year olds were like “this glue tastes delicious.” 8-year-olds do not care about this stuff! If adults were offended, that almost makes sense, except that he’s just a child, and more importantly, he was ASSIGNED Martin Luther King Jr. I’m not really sure how you can even take a side. Oh, if you want him to stop wearing blackface to school, that seems REASONABLE to me. Maybe you could just explain why to him, though? Instead of claiming that facepaint is “against the school’s dress code,” because IS THE SCHOOL’S DRESS CODE THE PROBLEM? On the other hand, I’m not really sure how you can be “for” the kid either. You can understand where he was coming from, and see that there was no harm in it, but you can’t totally be like “FUCK YEAH, THIS KID!” There is, after all, a certain cultural background to this kind of behavior that is historically unpleasant even if he did not mean it in that way. I for real do not understand why no one seems to actually be talking to the kid about what this is even about. Poor kids. It sucks to be kids!

Thank God the local news team got to him before he washed his face, though. Otherwise this interview wouldn’t have won ALL THE PULITZERS:

He likes black people. He doesn’t want to hurt them. He was just trying his best. Don’t be afraid. Have a strong voice. Blackface. (Thanks for the tip, Jessica.)

Comments (33)

    • and Louie’s daughter did it too kind of

      • Can we talk about this? Because I’ve actually looked for widely read criticism on this instance of blackface, and it’s the first thing that came to mind when I read this post. Does Louis get a pass because he’s generally anti-racist? This bit made me really uncomfortable, and I was surprised no one seemed to get up in arms about it. I LOVE this show, and didn’t stop watching, but I wish this hadn’t happened? Or if it had to happen, that it was at least discussed? (First post btw. Long time lurker.)

      • I don’t know, I thought that Frederick Douglas costume was adorbs and nerdy and innocent. Does that make me a racist? Even though I have black friends? Guys?

    • This really made child me very uncomfortable when it happened, but didn’t he ultimately learn an important lesson? Or not… Pretty sure this is the last ep I watched actually.

  2. Between this and the Punk CD, it seems like Colorado Springs needs to work a few things out.

  3. I am more offended by the ponytail his dad and he are rocking

  4. It seems like white people under a certain age (let’s say 25) have completely forgetten why raceface is so unpleasant and why showing people you dressed up as Oprah for Halloween when you’re a blue-eyed redhead isn’t the greatest strategy of all time, for example. I honestly wonder where this ignorance is coming from.

    • Maybe let’s say between 13-25 or something.
      Unless you’re accusing babies of being willfully ignorant of the societal framework of racial inequality.

      In which case, uh.

    • Well that’s why you have parents. Kids aren’t going to naturally know what blackface is or the history behind it. They are going to want to dress themselves up and paint themselves to look like the person they are trying to look like. That’s why you have these people called PARENTS who are supposed to sit you down and explain that, yes this paint will make you look more like MLK, but unfortunately there was a time when white people used to put black paint on their face in a prejudiced way, so when you put this paint on your face it’s going to remind people of that prejudice and hate. This kid should file for emancipation immediately and also find some new teachers.

  5. couldn’t this have waited til Monday when we expect to be depressed and bitter?

    instead, gabe decided to put the black face on my friday afternoon.

  6. I have a dream that one day little white boys and little white girls can join together and black up as one!

  7. I would have been offended at eight. I was a pretty political kid. Also I grew up around assholes. Thinking back, I’m surprised I never saw this.

  8. I’m judging that kid by the content of his character. And I think he’s OK.

  9. Sean’s Dad – the principal and faculty members should be setting an example for the children how? By wearing Black?

  10. True story: When I was 11 and dressed up like Geordi LaForge for Halloween complete with blackface. I’m glad the internet didn’t exist yet.

  11. I’m just glad he was able to find another use for the mustache from his Hitler costume.

  12. “I worked really hard and tried my best!”
    -Letter From a Birmingham Detention.

  13. This stuff is so frustrating. The social landscape is of course ever-changing, and certain words get new definitions or become broader terms for very specific things. I cannot stand the term blackface being such a blanket statement for these scenarios.

    It’s apparently my own problem that I don’t feel the term is as universal as the rest of society, and that I mostly equate ‘blackface’ with its very speicific origins of racist minstrel shows and just racists in general playing BROAD stereotypes of black people, with giant white rings around their eyes and mouths and all that grotesque stuff.

    But wearing make up to dress up as a very specific individual is not racist unless, for example, you’re saying you’re MLK and then start talking about how much you love things stereotypically related to black people (“I had a dream about watermelons” is an example of some racist-ass shit).

    We’ve already touched on it in previous blackface-centric posts about how Fred Armisen is not of African descent but plays Obama every week on SNL. He’s wearing makeup and a wig. Where’s the outcry. Where’s the usage of ‘blackface’ when referring to his impression? ‘Blackface’ is not defined as ‘white people dressing up as black stereotypes.’ Any ethnicity can do blackface. Any ethnicity can do ANY-COLOR-face.

    Yes, the denizens of the U.S. are predisposed to be very sensitive to the racial implications involved when depicting black Americans because of everything that came after enslaving them to build this nation, but that doesn’t mean that a kid is doing something racially insensitive by dressing up as a leader of the Civil Rights movement to champion his legacy. FUCK.

    I really abhor the way our language is being used. I love how flexible and English is, where I can say “I’m photoshopping,” and people understand that ‘photopshopping’ isn’t actually a verb and in truth I am working on something in the Photoshop program. I just can’t stand how lazy people get with it, like attaching/attributing the most extreme words to the most minor things, such as putting ‘-Gate’ at the end of any minor conflict, every day on the news there’s a new declaration of war on something, etc.

    I am willing to accept ‘blackface’ as a universal term for “the step someone who is not black must take in order to do an accurate portrayal of someone who is black through the process of applying makeup” as soon as the racial connotation is not implicit. Until that day comes, people who use ‘blackface’ as a catch-all term are using it wrong.

    • I’m not finished. Real quick, I would also like to say that it is probably wise for people who are not professional entertainers who know how to ride that very thin line of satire to stop dressing up as ethnicities that are not their own. Even ‘entertainers’ have screwed up royally in figuring out where the line is, such as Ashton’s chip commercial and Bill Crystal’s long-expired Sammy Davis Jr. impression (this rarely if ever applies to voice actors though. They are probably the safest, depending on the show’s writers).


      • And that’s just in the context of satire.

        In regular day-to-day attempts at reverence for people of an ethnicity different from your own, don’t do it by trying to match skin tones. That’s literally scratching the surface of who people are.

  14. When we let the recess bell ring, when we let it ring from every hallway and every cafeteria, from every classroom and every school, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s kids, black kids and white kids, the kids who’s families don’t celebrate Christmas and those whose families do, bullies and nerds, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old spiritual, “Recess at last, recess at last. Thank God Almighty, we have recess at last.”

  15. When I was around his age, I looooved Tina Turner. So, I dressed up as her for Halloween. Now I’m a pretty pale girl so I bought some dark foundation because I wanted to look like her. I had a sweet wig, a black dress and some rockin’ alligator boots with gold chains (which I don’t know that she ever wore but it looked very TT to me). Looking back, it probably wasn’t the best idea, but I was coming from a good place.

  16. “Hilarious!” -Ashton Kutcher

  17. Why is it so windy???

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post, reply to, or rate a comment.