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This Week In Racism: Utahns Can't Stop Wearing Blackface

by Colin Wolf
- Posted // 2013-10-29 -

Unfortunately, this past weekend was highlighted by a few Utahns who believe that everyone needs to “lighten up” and who, coincidentally, also believe that it’s OK to wear blackface.

On Saturday, Utah-based actress and Dancing With the Stars regular Julianne Hough decided to go to a Halloween party dressed as "Crazy Eyes" from the show Orange is the New Black, complete with an orange jumpsuit and dark bronzer.


Pic via Gawker

Then, on Sunday, the Utah Jazz's official Twitter account retweeted a picture of a pair of Jazz fans dressed as Karl Malone and John Stockton while posing the question, “Can anyone top this Jazz Halloween costume?” Which seems OK—except that The Mailman was a white kid in blackface.


Now, before you say, “This isn't racist. What about the movie White Chicks?”, know that Shawn and Marlon Wayans in whiteface are absent of any horrifying historical context whatsoever. Though the film is 100 percent shit, there’s no part of history where we should be overwhelming embarrassed over something called “whiteface.”

Sure, intent matters. Hough and white Karl Malone probably didn't mean anything malicious by wearing blackface. But whether or not you can empathize with something doesn't mean people aren't offended. It's like the asshole who waves around a Confederate flag and claims the flag's only meaning is that he's a Skynyrd fan. 

So, to the publicists, social-media directors and people who have yet to take a history class, by now you should know that blackface is the most efficient way to let others know you’re prone to ending conversations with “It’s OK, I have a black friend.” But more importantly, blackface, much like Klan hoods, is a symbol of a very unfortunate part of America’s past. Spawned from the pre-Civil War minstrel shows, these embarrassing spectacles basically portrayed how whites viewed blacks and revolved around white actors painting their faces black, speaking in a slow drawl and generally acting like half-human buffoons.

Though toned down from its minstrel-show roots, modern day blackface is still just as racist, and these "jokes" are always grounded in truth. Just ask Tyler Christensen of Nibley, Utah, the one dressed as John Stockton (above), who has spent the past 48 hours defending himself on Twitter against claims that he’s a bigot. He says that his and his friend’s costumes were just a joke. However, after a quick browse through his past tweets, you stumble on posts like this:


Christensen has not apologized for the costume. However, both the Jazz and Hough have since issued apologies and distanced themselves from the issue. Hough wrote on her Twitter account that “I am a huge fan of the show Orange is the New Black, actress Uzo Aduba, and the character she has created. It certainly was never my intention to be disrespectful or demeaning to anyone in any way. I realize my costume hurt and offended people and I truly apologize.”

And, of course, about two minutes after the Jazz got super-pumped on blackfaced-white-guy Karl Malone, they deleted the tweet and wrote, “We apologize for last tweet/retweet moments ago, we have taken it down as it may be insensitive.”

Every year, this happens, and every year bewildered white folks are like, "Come on, what's the big deal?!" So, write this on your hand if you have to: Blackface equals bad, and remember, when choosing your next Halloween costume (or endorsing one), if you have to ask yourself, “Sooo, is this racist?”, it most definitely is. Every. Single. Time. It is.

Twitter: @WolfColin

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Post a comment
Posted // November 4,2013 at 23:52

I would first like to say that i'm as black as the midnight sky. I would like to follow by saying that the only people that are offended by a slur of any kind is probably currently practicing the behavior of such slur i. e. , nigger, faggot, shitbag, or honky ass bitch. Either way if you are willing to be defined by one word, and that i base on ghe fact that you give it power by responding negatively, then you my friends are ressurrecting the sole characteristics of the forementioned slur or slurs i mentioned in the first part of this letter. For the active slurrists; you have simply, in the lamest form of teaching, have become exactly what you hate. If you have better ways then teach to those who will listen and your influence shall be passed forward. Cheers to you all my mighty human counterparts, Chon Duray Travis


Posted // October 30,2013 at 12:59

I really can't believe the comments here.  

Racism still exists, so no, we're not all equal. Adopting features/characteristics of another nationality is racist. Redface and yellowface and painting your skin any color to represent the race of another person/character is racist, and those happen too.  

Here's the deal - if you're white, you just don't get a say. This goes for myself, too. If you're white you don't know what racism is. White people in this country are an institutional power, through no fault of their own because it's how we were born at this stage, but we shouldn't be perpetuating a system that further oppresses minorities.  

Also, if you don't know the history behind blackface, you don't get a say either.  


Posted // October 31,2013 at 04:06 - Also do you know the history of Black face? It seems as though you do not, as it is this picture is remarkably different for a couple of reasons of which, I have actually expressed in my own comments. if you would like to look into this I would actually suggest doing your own research so that its on your terms. Also when you say things like we're not all equal you push into the perception that there are people out there who are not equal when in fact we are equal, I believe what would be a slightly better way to say it your way would be we are not all treated as equals which is true and rather sad. Another thing you might want to look into during some research if you haven't already is the song imagine by John Lennon. Oh and THINK ABOUT IT.


Posted // October 31,2013 at 03:32 - Ally I plea for you to think about your words please, THINK about them, Don't just agree with them or my words for that matter just THINK. and I quote "if you're white, you just don't get a say. " This is in essence RACIST. do I believe you yourself am a racist? not for me to decide. Ally, are you a racist?


Posted // October 30,2013 at 04:58

This is just another reason that racism is still here: morons reporting worthless "stories" that have no bearing on what they're writing about.


Posted // October 30,2013 at 01:17

Racist is focusing on how this could be racist. We don't judge people by the color of their skin. Although, differences do exist. Dark skin is dark skin. The only way to dress up as Karl Malone if you're skin is white is to darken your skin. Can't we stop focusing on racism. We're all equal. Karl Malone is a great person to be for Hallowen, but you don't want people thinking you're trying to be Mark Eaton? Accentuating an important characteristic so people understand your costume is not racist. Some people just need something to whine about. Maybe we should ask the real Karl what he thinks??


Posted // October 29,2013 at 22:23

Love how racsim seems to only be an issue when its "blacks".  I am a large person, I would say fluffy.  If I dressed up like gabriel Iglesias and painted myself brown, no one would care.  But if I dressed up like fat Albert and painted myself black. . oh god you're a racist! !!!! Blacks have there own history month, the BET channel, can call each other the most disrespectful slang term in the world, and yet everyone else is racists. . .   racism is fear.  Grow up people.


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