graphical user interface, application

Conversations about Blackface, when white people darken their skin to perform exaggerated versions of nonwhite characters, often centers on the historical when it comes to the media’s role in perpetuating the racist act.

In some cases, historical means the minstrels of 19th century theater, silent films, or the more recent history of satire like Robert Downey Jr.’s 2008 film “Tropic Thunder,” which has aged horribly in a Hollywood landscape that demands sensitive and authentic portrayals, regardless of genre.

But it’s not always about decades or centuries ago. In the past seven days, however, at least three headlines directly or indirectly involved the damaging tradition have run — from the aesthetics of the Kardashian-Jenner family, to the astonishing rebound of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, to the crisis team helping fashion label Prada recover from scandal.

In short, says academic and author Ayanna Thompson, the continued prevalence of Blackface — both in content and old images of prominent figures — is not so easily explained away by heartfelt apologies and warning labels on classic movies.

Read more