Rational people, I hope, can tell the difference between humor (even when it toes the line) and racism; blackface and art. However, there are those who can’t. For those people (as a recovering art major) I’m here to help.
So, let’s dissect:
Humor (questionable humor, but humor nonetheless): Although there is no blackface in this example, it is the perfect medium with which to show humor that pushes boundaries without being horribly offensive or going way over the line. No explanation needed if you’ve seen the sketch – and probably only Chappelle could pull it off anyway.
Racist: Al Jolson in blackface. Why? “…used to take on the appearance of certain archetypes of American racism, especially those of the “happy-go-lucky darky on the plantation…'”
Blackface/and to quote Tommy “Racist(y)“: Maybe probably Unwitting Australians perform in blackface with a ‘whiteface’ Michael Jackson. Unwitting … probably. However, unwittingly racist. Performed in front of Southerner Harry Connick Jr. GIANT oops!
Art: Here’s where it get’s tricky. Why is the Vogue spread art and not racism? In my personal opinion it’s because of history. There is such a thing as the so-called Black Madonna. For a short time I was mildly obsessed with Templars, Masonic history, etc., and books such as “Holy Blood, Holy Grail” along with “The Gnostic Gospels” touched on historic themes and artistic displays of the Black Madonna. The next question probably is, “Why would she possibly think that?” Well, it’s the photo in the middle of the Vogue collage … it reminds me of the Black Madonna pure and simple. I could be wrong, but I suspect that a photographer who conceptualized this was miles away from imagining the social implications of a Vogue magazine spread.
Bottom line … stop doing it maybe … or be ready to stand up for it. Because folks are gonna call it as they see it. And, the way they see it usually is as racist.
Please disagree in the comments :).