This is why blackface for Halloween is racist

25 October 2018, 16:29 | Updated: 25 October 2018, 22:47

Makeup artist percemakin in blackface and Karen Civil no gif
Makeup artist percemakin in blackface and Karen Civil no gif. Picture: Instagram/percemakin/GIPHY
Jazmin Duribe

By Jazmin Duribe

Just don't do it, okay?

With Halloween coming up next week, it's time to talk blackface again. That's if you're at all interested in not being a symbol of racism. Yep, some people still don't understand.

Now you'd think everyone knew about it by now, but no, they really don't. Megyn Kelly issued an apology after making comments on the subject earlier this week. The NBC News anchor defended blackface and said she didn't understand why it was offensive.

It's not just her though, when October 31st rolls around each year it's just an awkward reminder that people don't understand that blackface Halloween costumes are just not it. I've been asked many times why it's offensive and the explanation can sometimes be hard to fathom for some. But it's actually pretty simple – and here it is.


First, it's probably best to learn the history. Way back in 19th century America, blackface was a form of entertainment based on racist black stereotypes and caricatures. The shows often mocked African-Americans and their features, with the artists painting their faces darker and enlarging their lips.

It reinforced the idea that it's okay to laugh at black people and reminded us of demeaning stereotypes about people of colour.

Although the shows came to an end in the 1970s, in the UK we had Little Britain and Come Fly With Me in the noughties. Matt Lucas and David Walliams dressed as black and Asian characters (yes, brownface is a thing too you know) in their offensive sketches. The actors have now admitted that they probably wouldn't "black up" for TV today.

Regardless of intent, it doesn't matter if you're not racist. You can't plead ignorance either. It's just impossible to separate blackface from its history, which many ethnic minorities are still feeling the negative effects of today.

Judy Garland in blackface
Judy Garland in blackface. Picture: Getty

Don't get us wrong, feel free to slap on the fake tan. But there's a difference between applying to look like you've stepped off of the beach in St Tropez and changing your entire race.

Also, if you want to dress as your favourite black celeb, go for it! But being Beyoncé, Meghan Markle or Barack Obama is much more than just race. The black identity is not a costume, entertainment or something that can be scrubbed off in a hot shower. There's so much more to it than skin colour. It's also painfully unfunny, like, seriously not one person is laughing.

Last year, three white teens on Instagram dressed as Migos and they absolutely nailed it. Rocking multiple gold chains, garish shirts and sunglasses, I immediately knew who they were, and you know what? No blackface.

White men as Migos for Halloween
White men as Migos for Halloween. Picture: Facebook/DJ Nailz

So there you have it, exactly not what to do this Halloween. Pretty simple really.

If you're still thinking about piling on the bronzer this year, it's probably good to think do I want to offend an entire race purely for my entertainment? And if the answer is no, great. You're ready to enjoy all the pumpkin-themed fun there is.

What do you think? Tweet us your thoughts @popbuzz