When I was a teenager, my family, and the families we were closest to would put on a “talent” show. We would rent out a Knights of Columbus Hall, cook a huge spread, and put on a performance for family, friends and neighbors. No fancy choreography or professionally written scripts. Just a small group of amateurs singing, performing comedy skits, dancing and lip syncing. Not open to the public, just for our own amusement.
Well, one year three women (friends of my mother) decided to perform an “homage” to the Supremes. My grandmother sewed some elaborate costumes. The ladies practiced every day to perfect their dance moves. And when the ladies got on stage to perform, the whole crowd burst out laughing. Why? Well…… about those “costumes”…. they had the glittery dresses, the wigs, and, oh, yeah…. BLACKFACE.
At the time, I was a relatively clueless kid, yet I KNEW that this made me REALLY UNCOMFORTABLE. I knew there was something wrong with this “tribute”, but I was assured by other family members that their actions were not RACIST, because it was done out of RESPECT. Ummm, yeah, which explains the raucous laughter, right??
I look back on that now and am embarrassed that I actually sat in the audience watching this debacle and said nothing publicly in protest. And the fact that everyone was laughing? Looking back, it saddens me that these are people I used to spend most of my time with. Because honestly, the people who participated in the show probably are CLUELESS as to the offensiveness of their act to this day.
Apparently, white folks STILL do not understand that blackface is disrespectful. It is not funny. It is not flattering. And it is certainly not cute. But apparently, in the world the editors of Numero magazine live in, making a white model up in dark makeup and an afro wig is “high fashion”. Apparently, they think it is chic to place a white woman in Black face (with a Black baby as an accessory, no less) in the pages of their magazine. Add a savanna like environment and some fake “tribal” prints and accessories and viola… a recipe for success! NOT!
It is bad enough that the fashion industry favors white women OR Black women with “white” features over other Black women. Now, they are TOTALLY taking the need for Black models AT ALL out of the equation! Can’t be bothered finding a Black woman to pose for your magazine? Simple! Just find a blond hair, blue eyed chick and MAKE HER UP as a Black woman instead!
Apparently, not only are Black models overlooked in favor of white models in general, but EVEN WHEN the fashion spread is SUPPOSED TO portray a Black woman, the fashion industry believes a white woman is better suited for the job. And apparently, this new “trend” words not only when you want to portray a Black WOMAN, it works when you want to show a Black MAN as well, as evidenced by the recent spread in L’Officiel Hommes, in which a white male model dons blackface for the public’s viewing pleasure.
Apparently, the fashion industry has officially decided that Black men and women are dispensable. After all, who better to embody and portray “ethnic beauty” than WHITE FOLKS???