Thursday, September 30, 2010

Blackface Ain't Cool Or 'Fashion Forward', It's Offensive

As you long time readers know Jasmyne Cannick, yours truly and a long list of people inside and outside the TBLG community have long been pissed about a certain gay white man that does a New Millennium minstrel show that gay white folks think is 'humorous'.

Because of its long hundred plus year history of being used to denigrate and demean Black people, we not only are offended by any manifestations of it, we have zero tolerance for blackface imagery .

Lately we've had this irritating trend of white models being made up to look like Black women in high fashion photo shoots when there are thousands of Black models looking for work.  .

We ain't down with that high fashion form of blackface either.  

I'm on the rant about this because I stumbled across the Mike Ruiz photo shoot in which he had trans actress Candis Cayne not only made up look like Diana Ross, but in his Transformations series made her up to look like the late 70's Blaxplotation film icon Tamara Dobson. .

Um, Mike, what the hell were you thinking?  I'm not giving your behind a pass on this bull feces either because you're Latino.  You should know fracking better.

If you were going to do a photoshoot and wanted a transperson to recreate Diana Ross, I do believe in the New York metropolitan area there are two of my trans sisters in Isis King or Laverne Cox who could have easily done so.

Miss Continental 2000 Tommie Ross has built a career with her Diana Ross illusion.

All three would have been nice starting points in terms of models who would have been better choices to pull that off .

I love me some Candis Cayne, but using her in this photoshoot was problematic on a lot of levels.

There are Black female illusionists of my generation and beyond to whom Diana Ross is their beauty icon and role model.

Then there's the blackface element of this.   Whether it's done maliciously, as a misguided attempt at humor or alleged high fashion, it is still seen as a insult by many African descended people for whites to slater on dark makeup to mimic Black people..

It sends a troubling unspoken message that the only acceptable beautiful Black woman is one that has 'white' features.  It plays into buttressing the centuries old 'unwoman' meme that has been used to attack the beauty and images of African descended women.  

By using Candis, you also added another ingredient to this failure stew by erasing Black transwomen. 

Are Black transwomen not beautiful enough to recreate the images of iconic and beautiful cis women of our race and culture?

I know we are, but Mike Ruiz, whether you intended it or not, the message you sent with this photo shoot to the African descended trans community, our African American family, our cis supporters and to the world was no we aren't.

That was the message you sent and that was received by my community when you used a white Hawaiian born transwoman in a photo shoot designed to recreate two iconic African descended beauties. 

I don't know how many times those of us in the Afrosphere have to say this until y'all get it through your thick fauxgressive heads.  Blackface is not humorous, cool, fashion forward or edgy,  it's offensive.

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