Reddit Reddit reviews Raising Cain: Blackface Performance from Jim Crow to Hip Hop

We found 3 Reddit comments about Raising Cain: Blackface Performance from Jim Crow to Hip Hop. Here are the top ones, ranked by their Reddit score.

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Raising Cain: Blackface Performance from Jim Crow to Hip Hop
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3 Reddit comments about Raising Cain: Blackface Performance from Jim Crow to Hip Hop:

u/A_Polite_Noise · 31 pointsr/movies

I think some people get confused by what blackface is on both sides. There are those who say "oh shuttup it's no problem PC baby" and those who are are a bit too quick and knee-jerky to examine the specifics of a situation before shouting "RACIST!" Blackface is not just about the makeup, but is about a sort of performance that reinforces negative stereotypes; a specific and unique kind of horrid artform that has its own cliches and tropes. I'm not going to say that Hugo Weaving in this image isn't problematic - I'm not touching the debate. I just think that, because he is playing all these characters and because we have yet to see him in action (is he affecting an unrealistic stereotypical accent, is the character akin to what a blackface character would be but for asians) that this isn't as cut and dry as people on both sides may want to make it.




Also, something like this has nuance...it can be part of a racist culture and art you can appreciate. If you are interested in the topic, read: Raising Cain: Blackface Performance from Jim Crow to Hip Hop, which is a fascinating book about the history of blackface performance from its origins on the eastern docks of Manhattan where the supports of the Brooklyn Bridge now stand to more modern examples and criticisms (such as Spike Lee's fascinating but problematic film Bamboozled), and posits that while it was a horrific form of racism, that it was also a form of expression; many black actors who would never have been on a stage otherwise got their start in blackface, and when you parse some of the works they created you can often find, carefully hidden in lyrics and skits, subtle jibes at blackface itself and at racism that went unnoticed by the white audiences. There are always shades of gray to these things, so no one should be too quick to dismiss it as entirely racist or to forgive it as entirely acceptable. Things can be a bit of both.

u/thmsbsh · 1 pointr/hiphopheads

Okay, so I'm two months too late to this thread so this might not ever get seen, but you would probably be interested in this book! Fascinating read, I referenced it a lot for my degree. Cool story, I know.

u/JanePoe87 · 0 pointsr/inthenews

From the article:

" this Halloween is like every Halloween of the last two or so decades, at least one white college student or minor celebrity will arrive at a party wearing dark-brown face paint as part of a costume imitating a famous black person, photos of the incident will emerge on the Internet, and condemnations will rain down from authority figures.

In recent years, Facebook surveillors discovered and publicized photos of six University of Southern Mississippi students who colored their white skin to depict the Huxtable family from The Cosby Show, two Northwestern University students who painted themselves coal-black and dressed as Bob Marley and Serena Williams, Raffi Torres of the Phoenix Coyotes and his wife dressed and darkened as Jay-Z and Beyoncé, and a blonde Dallas Cowboys cheerleader appearing at a costume event as the rapper Lil' Wayne, complete with gold teeth, long black braids, tattoos, and chocolate-brown makeup covering her body.

As with all blackface performers since the civil rights era, charges against the latest range from insensitivity to outright racism. But virtually all critics of blackface agree that, as the Northwestern University president put it, the practice "demeans a segment of our community."

Some recent instances of blackface were obviously and viciously hostile toward African Americans. A photo of a 2001 Halloween party at the University of Mississippi showed a white student dressed as a policeman holding a gun to the head of another, who was wearing blackface and a straw hat while kneeling and picking cotton. A year later, two fraternity brothers at Oklahoma State were photographed wearing Ku Klux Klan robes and holding a noose over the head of another sporting black face paint and a striped prisoner's uniform.

But while blackface is nearly always assumed to be anti-black, the most common charge against contemporary blackface performers is that they are ignorant of its meaning and history—that they don't "know" that it's necessarily bigoted—which suggests that their intentions were not in fact hostile.

In fact, blackface performances are not always unambiguously antagonistic toward African Americans. Several scholars of the phenomenon have argued that blackface has usually been, to some degree, an expression of envy and an unconscious rebellion against what it means to be "white." There is substantial evidence that this was especially true in the first half of the 19th century, when white men first painted their faces with burnt cork and imitated slaves on stage in what were called "minstrel" shows.

Some early blackface minstrel performance was clearly little more than anti-black parody, but many historians see the songs and dances of T.D. Rice, Dan Emmett, Dan Rice (Abraham Lincoln's favorite), and other originators of the genre as expressions of desire for the freedoms they saw in the culture of slaves. "Just as the minstrel stage held out the possibility that whites could be 'black' for awhile but nonetheless white," David Roediger, the leading historian of "whiteness," has written, "it offered the possibilities that, via blackface, preindustrial joys could survive amidst industrial discipline." Similarly, the Smith College scholar W.T. Lhamon argues that slave culture represented liberation to blackface performers and fans, who "unmistakably expressed fondness for black wit and gestures." In early blackface minstrel shows, whites identified with blacks as representations of all the freedoms and pleasures that employers, moral reformers, and churches "were working to suppress."

The latest addition to this revision of our understanding of blackface is Yuval Taylor and Jake Austen's book Darkest America: Black Minstrelsy From Slavery to Hip-Hop. The authors focus on the many, largely unknown, African Americans who performed in blackface from before the Civil War to the middle of the 20th century, but they also rescue white blackface performance from the simplistic moralizing that normally greets it. "If you dismiss [minstrelsy] as simply 'demeaning,'" they write, "you miss half the picture."

Taylor and Austen's book is an encyclopedic record of not only the black performers who coaled their faces but also of the minstrelsy's many contributions to what is now considered respectable popular culture: "If we were to throw out every song originally composed for the minstrel stage, every joke first uttered by painted minstrel lips, every performer who blackened up, every dance step developed for the olio (variety) portion of a minstrel show, our entertainment coffers might seem bare." They show that much of American music, dance, and comedy originated in an art form that was "wildly popular with black audiences" but is now reflexively dismissed as mere racism. For whites, they argue, minstrelsy offered the opportunity to indulge in a "carefree life liberated from oppression, responsibilities, and burdens"; and for blacks it represented freedom as well. "Despite the appearance of minstrelsy as a servile tradition, there were elements ofliberation in it from its very beginning, and these were instrumental to its popularity."

The enormous popularity of blackface in the 19th century cannot be explained without understanding that it coincided with a period in American culture in which Puritan values merged with Victorian ideas about work, leisure, sex, and emotional expression. Nineteenth-century children's books, school primers, newspaper editorials, poems, pamphlets, sermons, and political speeches told Americans that work in itself was a virtue, regardless of what one gained from it materially. European visitors frequently commented on what they called the American "disease of work." Typical was a popular textbook of the time, which instructed children that "Satan finds some mischief still for idle hands to do."

There was no such idea of work as godly in Africa, nor among American slaves. According to the African-American social scientist W.E.B. DuBois, the slave "was not as easily reduced to be the mechanical draft-horse which the northern European laborer became. He was not easily brought to recognize any ethical sanctions in work as such but tended to work as the results pleased him and refused to work or sought to refuse when he did not find the spiritual returns adequate; thus he was easily accused of laziness and driven as a slave when in truth he brought to modern manual labor a renewed valuation of life."

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