Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Earth to Reality Show Producers: Black Face is Offensive, not Risque
In the above clip, one of the "wives" of the Real Housewives of Atlanta franchise proposes to dress up all the other "wives" up in their alter-ego. Nene thinks that Kim should be painted, wigged, & dress to look like a Black woman, Keena, for her "alter-ego." The premise is that this is Nene's idea and that this is the kind of thing that rich, indulgent women do for fun in Atlanta. Most probably, however, it is the "hilarious" idea of the RHOA producer. All of the housewives shows are staged--and I will admit to watching the two episodes a season of NYC, NJ, & Atlanta that Bravo allows Hulu to put online--because its all so ridiculous. But seriously, in the NYC version they put on a charity event, totally staged but plausible. In NJ, they staged simple things like all the "wives" and their husbands/children going to a ballroom dancing class together or simply all these strangers getting together for an Italian meal in Teresa's new home. The stage-y-ness of Atlanta is more transparent in this particular stunt and it could lead into seriously offensive territory. Somehow, because it was a Black woman who suggested it, the producers think that perhaps they can get away with it. Guess what, you can't! Don't do it Kim! Dressing up in blackface is always offensive because it is steeped in oppressive and racist stereotypes. So often I hear white people complain about how they can't say the "n" word or dress in blackface, but Black people can use the "n" word and two black men wrote, directed, & starred in White Chicks. Boo-hoo white people (yes, okay, I'm white but one of the privileges of being white is the ability to call out the racism of white people without being accused of using "the race card"). History, especially in Atlanta, can't be swept under the rug for the purposes of a cheap reality show prank. It shouldn't be. Blackface is offensive and in this era where racist white men come armed to a townhall meeting where the first African American President of the United States of America is there to talk about healthcare reform, race baiting and racially insensitive jokes are particularly disgusting...and possibly inciting of violence.