As I was watching the Nebraska versus Southern California college football game last Saturday night on ABC, I saw the above image. I paused the DVR (basically a Tivo), and took the above picture.
I am shocked by this young man's nescience. He's a Husker fan in the student section in Lincoln, Nebraska at Memorial Stadium, and he has work farmer overalls, a cowboy hat, and has painted his body red and has painted his face black. Yes, it's undeniable, he seems to have unwittingly put himself in blackface.
He was probably trying to "honor" the vaunted Nebraska Blackshirts defense. He really should have swapped the red body paint to his face, and painted his body black, or just have worn an actual black shirt.
Instead, he's in blackface. From wikipedia:
When white people dressed up as "black" people in theater and film up to the 1930s, they represented particularly racist notions of black people. In one famous example in the wildly popular 1915 film Birth of a Nation, an obviously white actor, with wispy (instead of coarse) hair, dressed in blackface, played out a scene of a "black" man trying to rape a pure, white Southern Belle.
Stereotypes embodied in the stock characters of blackface minstrelsy played a significant role in cementing and proliferating racist images, attitudes and perceptions worldwide.
Birth of a Nation enunciated the post-Civil War notion that blacks were to blame for the sorrows of that war, and were inherently inferior to whites, and that the efforts of the Ku Klux Klan were actually heroic.
For the modern person, this is hard to believe. But look:
Thomas Jefferson, third President of the United States, in Notes on Virginia:
Woodrow Wilson, 28th President, historian, and president of Princeton:
Comparing them [blacks] by their faculties of memory, reason, and imagination, it appears to me that in memory they are equal to the whites; in reason much inferior, as I think one could scarcely be found capable of tracing and comprehending the investigations of Euclid; and that in imagination they are dull, tasteless, and anomalous. It would be unfair to follow them to Africa for this investigation.
In sum, blackface represents the worst of American history's racism -- images of servile Uncle Toms, "blacks" doing little other than dancing the jig, and having uncontrolled sexual urges upon white women.
The white men were roused by a mere instinct of self-preservation....until at last there had sprung into existence a great Ku Klux Klan, a veritable empire of the South, to protect the Southern country.
Add to this the history of lynching in the United States, and the Nebraska fan in blackface is even worse, and surely perpetuates the notion of a backwards, hick Nebraska. And the athletes from primarily black North Omaha, Nebraska, playing for the "third largest city in Nebraska" (a filled Memorial Stadium) of white folks....
Well, I don't know what more to say, other than please, people, don't paint your faces black.