Planet of the Apes or the Obamas?

Recently in the opinions section of a Belgian Newspaper, one article, said to have been submitted from Russian President Vladimir Putin, shows the Obamas depicted as apes. On the picture it says, “First Black President, starts selling weed.” I thought this was a really interesting thing to bring up because it related to the Eberhardt studies that we looked at in class relating Blacks to Apes. Many people make the implicit association of blacks to apes and this cartoon is …

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Racism in aisle ’14

Since I have been in this class, it is amazing to me how many things I see on social media sites that relate to everything we are talking about in class.  This week I was browsing my Facebook news feed and I saw two posts, one after another, that completely shocked me.  A woman, that goes to Muhlenberg, had a post that explained a recent experience with racism. Her post stated: “So I went to my local grocery store …

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Blackface or a black face?

Black face costume


Gawker: Julianne Hough Makes a Very Bad Halloween Costume Decision


The comments are the most interesting part of this gawker post.  One commenter said,

“Its not blackface if you are doing a certain person. It is a black face.”

Another said,

“Exactly. Intent is everything here. Black face was racist because it was racist in practice. Dressing up as a black character isn’t racist unless it is offensive and is meant to be racist. Dressing up as a black character you admire isn’t racist, it’s a compliment.

Thoughts?  Comments?  Is intent everything?


Miley Cyrus and the West African Origins of Twerking

Sadly, yes. I did feel that including Miley Cyrus in the title and tag of this post would garner more attention. Here is one of several thoughtful pieces I’ve seen – not about misguided Miley’s image – but about how the dancers that surrounded her were used “as props.” It also provides a brief history of twerking – a dance I found awkward and mystifying in Miley’s performance.  We owe it to twerking to read this.  – Posted by …

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The Dangers of Hairspray

So, as some of you may or may not know, I tend to dabble in the world of theatre here at Muhlenberg College. My dabbling in this world has led me to a lot of wonderful friends, valuable learning experiences, and, really, just a lot of great times. Of late, however, it has provided me with an interesting window into the world of contemporary racism.

Let’s start with an honest fact: the world of theatre has been littered with racism since the dawn of its existence. From the concept of “minstrel shows” to the prevalence white performers performing in black face the old world of theatre has not been particularly friendly to non-white members of society. Now, of course, we have moved into an age where, overt, old-fashioned racism is no longer acceptable. This rule, to an extant, has applied to the world of musical theatre. In fact, many contemporary works of theatre, even musical theatre, have focused on racial issues and the problems they have caused within society. This summer, Muhlenberg College’s Summer Music Theatre program (MSMT for short), is putting on one of those productions, Shaiman, Wittman, O’Donnel, and Meehan’s Hairspray.

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“Why isn’t it racist?”

Over break I went to my roommate Alex’s house for the week. One night, Alex and I were watching TV and stumbled upon MTV’s show, The Real World Road Rules Challenge. About five minutes in, we witnessed two cast mates attempting to “poke fun” at their friends’ interracial relationship by using black face, which they did by covering their faces with nutella. While the two of us stared at each other in disbelief, her mom asked us why that was inappropriate, “black people make fun of white people all the time and no one points the finger at them.”

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