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Old 27.05.2011, 10:34
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Kids in blackface

It's the time of year when high school kids dress in costumes on appointed days. Last week I saw a bunch of 'North American Indians' and was a little surprised.

Well, today I saw 2 white kids wearing beautiful African traditional clothing, but they had smeared dark brown paint all over themselves. It was shocking. I see it will be an uphill battle to raise sensitive, respectful, culturally-aware kids in this country, if these girls were allowed to leave their homes and go to school dressed in such an offensive manner.

Perhaps it's my North American political correctness, but given the degree of racism experienced by Africans here, not to mention the history of European colonialism in Africa, you'd think schools would be educating kids, not encouraging such a disgusting level of willful ignorance. Minus 1 million points for the Swiss school system!
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Old 27.05.2011, 10:40
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Re: Kids in blackface

Was it paint or make up? I don't see the problem, to be honest. When kids dress up, they want to pull out all the stops and look as accurate as possible.

Only the adults would be able to see the "offence" in it, kids rarely think like this.

To them, the picture of someone wearing an African costume is of a person with dark skin. What's wrong with trying to match the skin tone with the same effort you put into making the costume?

If you dress as a witch you hunt down some green make up and if you are going dressed as Dracula, you look for white make up. Nobody gets their knickers in a twist for that, do they?

I really hope the hypersensitive Political Correctness craziness doesn't swamp Switzerland and trample kids' creativeness.
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Old 27.05.2011, 10:49
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Re: Kids in blackface

Lost in Broad: Seeing as you are on a drive-by groaning exercise, answer me this...

If you have a child who puts in a shedload of effort into a costume then you tell him or her to remove the brown make up but the rest of the costume can stay, what is the first question they will ask?

I can tell you it will be "Why?"

Up to that point, the child has no idea of the issue and will not have any exposure to racism. As soon as you make it a big thing that it's wrong, you have stitched some little thread of judgement of skin colour and race into their fabric.

Up until that point they see skin colour with no other feeling than pure "observation" with no more weight on the subject than colour of hair, shoes or eyes, etc.

I know which way I would prefer it.
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Old 27.05.2011, 10:50
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Re: Kids in blackface

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I really hope the hypersensitive Political Correctness craziness doesn't swamp Switzerland and trample kids' creativeness.
..yeah, really creative huh...this has been done probably 100 years ago. How do you think the people dressed up as "Schmutzli" turned dark?
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Old 27.05.2011, 10:53
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Re: Kids in blackface

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Was it paint or make up? I don't see the problem, to be honest. When kids dress up, they want to pull out all the stops and look as accurate as possible.

....

I really hope the hypersensitive Political Correctness craziness doesn't swamp Switzerland and trample kids' creativeness.

it's offensive because people are offended by it. even if you can explain it away to yourself and convince yourself that it shouldn't offend people, it still in fact does. i don't feel some overwhelming desire to go around in blackface that would trump the feelings of those I may and will offend, so i simply don't. it's as simple as that.
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Old 27.05.2011, 10:55
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Was it paint or make up? I don't see the problem, to be honest. When kids dress up, they want to pull out all the stops and look as accurate as possible.

Only the adults would be able to see the "offence" in it, kids rarely think like this.

To them, the picture of someone wearing an African costume is of a person with dark skin. What's wrong with trying to match the skin tone with the same effort you put into making the costume?

If you dress as a witch you hunt down some green make up and if you are going dressed as Dracula, you look for white make up. Nobody gets their knickers in a twist for that, do they?

I really hope the hypersensitive Political Correctness craziness doesn't swamp Switzerland and trample kids' creativeness.
I guess you feel right at home here.
God forbid that the icky foreign value of respect for other cultures and races should 'swamp' Switzerland.

It was very badly applied greasy face paint, btw. It wasn't merely a little fake tan.

How about the fact that blackface routines have been used in popular culture to mock and perpetuate negative stereotypes? Does that not make it a little less appropriate?

A variety of skintones can be found in Africa, so they could be just as authentic wearing the clothing and leaving it at that.

These girls were around 16 years old, not 5. They should know better at that age.
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Old 27.05.2011, 10:57
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Re: Kids in blackface

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..yeah, really creative huh...this has been done probably 100 years ago. How do you think the people dressed up as "Schmutzli" turned dark?
You mean the guy dressed as a monk who accompanies Sami Chlaus? He's not dark (well his costume is a muddy brown) but I guess given his name has "Schmutz" in it which is "dirt" in German, that might account for the less than light appearance.

I don't get your point?
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Old 27.05.2011, 10:57
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Re: Kids in blackface

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..yeah, really creative huh...this has been done probably 100 years ago. How do you think the people dressed up as "Schmutzli" turned dark?
"Schmutzli" have nothing to do with naturally dark skin or racism.

No... sandgrounder has made a very valid point. PC can cause negative racism. It's the bleeding-heart liberals that can create nearly as many problems as the in your face "call a spade, a spade" (not racially implied) types.
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Old 27.05.2011, 10:58
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Re: Kids in blackface

If someone wanted to brown up and look like me, I wouldn't be offended.

If they wanted to brown up and start pretending to be a terrorist, then that's a completely different ball game.

I've seen friends from high school back in the UK blacken up for Halloween when they dressed up as the Jamaican bob sleigh team. It's not something that is unique to Swiss children.

Maybe it's not very politically correct in this day and age to blacken up...but the PC brigade is far too sensitive anyway.
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Old 27.05.2011, 11:01
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You mean the guy dressed as a monk who accompanies Sami Chlaus? He's not dark (well his costume is a muddy brown) but I guess given his name has "Schmutz" in it which is "dirt" in German, that might account for the less than light appearance.

I don't get your point?
You can't be serious.
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Old 27.05.2011, 11:01
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Re: Kids in blackface

A distinction:

Blackening up your face for fancy dress - ok

Blackening up your face and acting like a chimp- offensive


Last edited by porsch1909; 27.05.2011 at 11:26. Reason: Humans are primates too :D
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Old 27.05.2011, 11:04
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Re: Kids in blackface

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it's offensive because people are offended by it. even if you can explain it away to yourself and convince yourself that it shouldn't offend people, it still in fact does. i don't feel some overwhelming desire to go around in blackface that would trump the feelings of those I may and will offend, so i simply don't. it's as simple as that.
OK, now that the OP has added the tidbit that the kids she saw were in their teens rather than kindergartners this is going to make my next point irrelevant to this thread but relevant to your post...

How do you then explain your point above to an under 5 year old that has gone nuts to reproduce a costume of an African in traditional dress which they have just spent the last couple of weeks learning about in school?
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Old 27.05.2011, 11:04
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Re: Kids in blackface

Pc gone too far. Kids celebrating a culture. Wtf? My black friends back in south carolina would find this absolutely smashing. 'blackface' as used in minstrels ridiculing black people is something else altogether. First time i post on a phone, but just too much wtf!
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Old 27.05.2011, 11:04
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Re: Kids in blackface

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You mean the guy dressed as a monk who accompanies Sami Chlaus? He's not dark (well his costume is a muddy brown) but I guess given his name has "Schmutz" in it which is "dirt" in German, that might account for the less than light appearance.

I don't get your point?
Well, where I live, Schmutzli is a white man with a black painted face...which is wrong as it makes a mockery out of people that are different...but it is a cultural thing. Neither you, nor most Swiss find anything wrong with it....they're just being "creative" right? Ignorance is bliss I say.
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Old 27.05.2011, 11:06
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Re: Kids in blackface

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It was very badly applied greasy face paint, btw. It wasn't merely a little fake tan.
Maybe schoolgirls don't allow the same amount of time in the morning, to apply the slap, as an adult woman.

I'm sorry ... but it always seems that those from continental North America, always seem to be on a guilt trip when it comes to racial PC, and tend to try to completely over-compensate for the misendeavours of their predecessors.
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Old 27.05.2011, 11:06
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Re: Kids in blackface

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Perhaps it's my North American political correctness, but given the degree of racism experienced by Africans here, not to mention the history of European colonialism in Africa, you'd think schools would be educating kids, not encouraging such a disgusting level of willful ignorance. Minus 1 million points for the Swiss school system!
Dressing up as Africans is making them willfully ignorant of what exactly?
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Old 27.05.2011, 11:09
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Re: Kids in blackface

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Dressing up as Africans is making them willfully ignorant of what exactly?
...there is a distinction between dressing up as Africans and painting your face black.
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Old 27.05.2011, 11:11
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Re: Kids in blackface

it's baffling to me that people still dont understand that what's considered offensive is based on history, culture and prior use/misuse. blackface is offensive because it was used in western societies to mock the appearance and behavior of people of african heritage. so those do it today are drawing on THAT history. you don't get to make up your own, modern interpretation of blackface as a harmless and objective portrayal of africans simply because you think it's logical.
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Old 27.05.2011, 11:13
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Re: Kids in blackface

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Well, where I live, Schmutzli is a white man with a black painted face...which is wrong as it makes a mockery out of people that are different...but it is a cultural thing. Neither you, nor most Swiss find anything wrong with it....they're just being "creative" right? Ignorance is bliss I say.
Lib - this schmutzli thing is a red herring, and bears no part of the discussion here.

Schmutzli's are traditionally woodsmen, i.e. those who made their living from working with and in the forests. Traditionally when there was a high demand for charcoal (other than for BBQ's), it was made at source, in clearings in the woods and was the work of these woodsmen. Now if you or I were handling blackened, partly-burned wood, it is very likely that our hands and faces would take on the same colour.
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Old 27.05.2011, 11:14
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Re: Kids in blackface

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Well, where I live, Schmutzli is a white man with a black painted face...which is wrong as it makes a mockery out of people that are different...but it is a cultural thing. Neither you, nor most Swiss find anything wrong with it....they're just being "creative" right? Ignorance is bliss I say.
Well, that's not how it is here (local community in ZH with rent-a-Sami-Claus on 6th Dec). Guy that accompanies Sami Chlaus is a white guy with a beard dressed as a monk carrying a big bag. What the f**k is racist about that?

No make up, no alluding to any other race whatsoever! Are you sure you are talking about Schmutzli?
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