Presentation Outline: The Evolution of Blackface

Lexi had the opportunity to present to her college class this week and decided to talk about the Evolution of Blackface. Perfect timing, as we had just watched Spike Lee’s Bamboozled a few weeks prior, but this was going to be a particularly “interesting” topic before a majority white classroom. 

She has allowed me to repost her presentation outline (so it does not read like an essay) here on our site. Actually, that is the whole point that I’m teaching her, it is HER work! We write so many papers and do so much research for teachers or our employers, but it is our work, and something in us that we should share for our own purposes and not the benefit of others. 

I must also say CONGRATULATIONS to my girl. In one month, she graduates with her Associate’s degree right after clocking the odometer over to her 18th birthday.  Since she’s is going to be an English guru, hopefully she can edit dad’s sloppy grammar here on the site (and get him to write more) as well. 

 

Topic: The Evolution of Blackface

Specific Purpose: To Inform my COM 206 class on the evaluation of blackface.

Central Idea: Everyone believes that blackface ended in the 1980’s, but there are still many examples of its presence online and in the news. From its racial beginning, controversial middle, and still foreseeable future.

INTRODUCTION

Attention-getter: Lisa R. Pruitt looked at her 1985 yearbook she edited when she was an undergraduate at the University of Arkansas. She was looking to see if any of the students appeared in blackface. After everything that has been starting to surface from other people’s college years, Pruitt believed she would find some photos depicting the same thing. After some searching, she was surprised to see that there weren’t any, but wouldn’t be surprised if she would have some.

Relevance to audience: The controversy about blackface has been spreading in the news lately, and this issue is one that is important to understand. Not only to judge future politicians and clothing, but to understand history as a whole.

Preview of speech: So, I will give a quick overview of how blackface came to be, what was happening with college students in the 80s, and how it’s being used in the 21st century.

(Let’s first start with the quick history.)

BODY

  1. The history of blackface is a very controversial and hidden history.
    1. According to Eric Lott from the book Love & Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy and the American Working Class writes that the minstrel show is a, “transparently racial curiosity, a form of leisure that, in inventing and ridiculing the slow-witted but irrepressible ‘plantation darky’”.
      1. Eric Lott continues to say that this was a way of conveniently rationalizing the oppression of black people.
      2. Movies like The Birth of a Nation is an example of blackface. In which white people put on blackface and then made black people look savage and animal like.
    2. The use of blackface dates back to minstrel shows in the mid-19th century
      1. Minstrel shows were the biggest form of entertainment in America before TV shows and movies. These shows often depicted falsehoods about black people to make them seem idiotic and stupid.
    3. After the 1980’s, blackface started to lose its value and instead was being ridiculed. Attitudes started to change about how African Americans are being depicted and whether or not it was right.

(Now that we know some history, let’s jump to the 80s. Where blackface flared until it died, our so we thought.)

  1. For blackface, the 1980’s had many white college students taking part in the practice. This is referred to as the “Great College-Yearbook Reckoning”, stated by Zipporah Osei in “The ‘Great College-Yearbook Reckoning’: Scholars Say Blackface Images Aren’t Outliers”.
    1. Lisa Pruitt also said, “that back then, she and her white classmates weren’t sensitized to the overt racism of blackface”.
    2. This article continues to explain how politicians wore blackface to parties and events during their college years.
      1. Hafsa Quraishi for NPR writes, “both the (Virginia) governor and the attorney general admitted to instances of dressing in blackface for parties in the 1980s”.
      2. Zipporah Osei continues to say that, “Mark Herring, Virginia’s Democratic attorney general, admitted that he too had donned blackface in the 1980s”.

(Now after this time period of college rebellion, we enter the 21st century. This is when we start to see another rise of blackface, but in a different form.)

  • There are still images of blackface being created today in the 21st century. What’s to say that it will end any time soon.
    1. The NPR article says that, “Back in 2000, when comedian Jimmy Kimmel was the host of The Man Show, he had a recurring skit in which he wore blackface to impersonate former Utah Jazz basketball player Karl Malone”.
      1. In this skit, he would mock Malone’s speech and intelligence while wearing full-body blackface.
        1. Jimmy Fallon also wore black face while portraying comedian Chris Rock in an episode of Saturday Night Live in 2000.
      2. This was being talked about so much that Spike Lee, a famous black director, made a movie called Bamboozled that was released in 2000.
        1. This movie touched on the reality of what would happen if minstrel shows were brought back today in the form of a television show. Not only did it talk about blackface, but it also touched on how black people can sell each the out.
      3. The Italian brand Gucci just got ridiculed for selling a black turtle necked sweater that included a red-lined cut out for costumers’ mouth.
        1. Other brands that had similar racist moments include Burberry with a hoodie that had a noose around it, and H&M with its ad controversy of a black boy wear a shirt that said, “coolest monkey in the jungle”.

CONCLUSION

Summary Statement: To conclude, blackface is still very much alive and well. Even though we think that no one uses blackface anymore; brands still release clothing that are blatantly racist. Famous comedians today also have put on blackface, yet they seem to be surprisingly quite during this blackface controversy toward the Virginia governor.

Audience Response Statement: Staying on top of this situation is important to understand how your century thinks. Will you still feel the same way you did when you shopped at Gucci before the sweater outrage, or will you know feel disgusted to own their products?

WOW Statement: We can’t get to a world of no racism, it is virtually impossible. But things as blatant as Gucci’s sweater can be resolved with a little common sense and understanding of history.

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TTR Lesson of the Day: Analyzing Black TV Fathers

Black TV Dads collage

Today’s Lesson: Tuesday is Black TV Dad Tuesday. So today, the kids take notes comparing episodes of Good Times (James Evans), Bill Cosby Show (Heathcliff Huxtable) Fresh Prince of Bel Air (Uncle Phil), and Everybody Hates Chris (Julius). They are analyzing the role the Black father has inside the home. How is he portrayed? How is he different than Dre on Blackish (one of the few Black dads currently on TV)? What is his role in the family? Does he fit or promote stereotypes the dominant society has about Black men?

I will be sure to share what the young superstars come up with here!

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The Pharaoh during the time of Moses

Most people, including me, have wondered who the pharaoh of Exodus was, but the book does not mention the Pharaoh whose heart was always hardened. Throughout this post, I want to give more insight on this subject.

In the book of Exodus, God sends Moses to free the Israelites from enslavement in Egypt, and the Israelites had to endure 40 years of wandering in the wilderness before they could enter the Promised Land. First, when was the book of Exodus written? Some people think that the book of Exodus was written in 1446 B.C, while others believe that it was written around the year 1260 BC.

The reason that some people believe that the book of Exodus was written in 1260 B.C, is because they argue that in Exodus 1:11 Israel was working on a city called Rameses, and this points to the Exodus occurring during the reign of Rameses II. This could be true because Rameses II built a temple that was carved out of a hill. He became king of Egypt in 1394 BC and ruled for 66 years. He built the city of Pi-Rameses in the swamplands of the Delta. This city became the new capital of Egypt. In Kush, he built two rock cut temples of Abu Simbel. During his reign he had a problem with the Hittites, this state threatened Egypt’s Asian interests. So a battle took place in 1389 BC in Syria. He could possibly be one of the pharaohs that existed at the time of Moses, but the only evidence I found was the city he built.

There is evidence that Thutmose III (1485-1431) was ruling during the time of Moses because his mummy is the only one to predict plagues that spread through the Egyptian and Hittite empires. Plus his first born son, Amenemhet, died before he could take over for his father. Some people think Amenemhet died because of the tenth plague. So his second son, Amenhotep II, took over the throne. It is also said that his stepmother Hatshepsut was the one that found Moses in the river and that Thutmose II, her husband, was the Pharaoh when Moses fled to Midian for killing an Egyptian.

There is no way of knowing for sure of who was ruling during that time because of limited information, plus we do not know for sure whether the dates for Pharaohs are correct. But I hope this helped you get a better understanding of what pharaohs were around during the time of Moses.

What is so wrong with American slavery when the Hebrews had slaves too?

By Big Homie, age: 12

So, first off, what exactly was American slavery? American slavery was the slavery of Africans and their main oppressors were the Europeans who took them by ship (as you can see by this map) from Africa to the United States and Europe.

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What is so wrong with American slavery when the Hebrews had slaves too? Well from what the bible tells us, we can only presume that the Hebrews had slaves because in the bible God told Moses laws about slaves. In Exodus 21:1-6 God says to Moses: “Now these are the rules that you shall set before them. When you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve six years, and in the seventh he shall go out free, for nothing. If he comes in single, he shall go out single; if he comes in married, then his wife shall go out with him. If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master’s, and he shall go out alone. But if the slave plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free,’ then his master shall bring him to God, and he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost. And his master shall bore his ear through with an awl, and he shall be his slave forever”.

Now let’s compare American slavery and Hebrew slavery. In Exodus 21:2 God says to Moses: 2 “When you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve six years, and in the seventh he shall go out free…” Well in America when you are a slave, you are a slave either until you die or the master lets you free but even then, you might have go back if someone catches you. In Exodus 21:3-6 God says to Moses: 3 “If he comes in single, he shall go out single; if he comes in married, then his wife shall go out with him. If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master’s, and he shall go out alone. 5” But if the slave plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free,’ then his master shall bring him to God, and he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost. And his master shall bore his ear through with an awl, and he shall be his slave forever”. In American slavery, the slaves could marry, but the whole family had to stay slaves.

So, what is wrong with American slavery when the Hebrews had slaves too? What is wrong with American slavery is that the African slaves were treated so bad that were lynched and beaten until they were either almost dead or dead. While the Hebrew slaves were treated nicely had much better clothes, much better living arraignments, and much better lives than slaves in America, which is way American slavery was worse than Hebrew slavery.

When We Ruled by Robin Walker – Part Two

In part one, I shared our 2016-2017 world history textbook is Robin Walker’s When We Ruled and a little about why I made the decision to use this text. Today, I’d like to share a bit more on why and how we are using his amazing work.

Why We Are Using: Is Black History Slave History?

This photo summarizes how history is taught to African-Americans:

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Now, it is bad enough that this is the opening act in U.S. History, but World History? So many questions remain like:

  • What were “slaves” doing in Africa before slavery?
  • If they were in Africa, were they really slaves?
  • If they were not slaves, what were they doing?
  • If Africa had so many people with dark skin in the country, how did they become slaves and why are “white” people there now?
  • When did people with lighter skin come to Africa?
  • If darker skin people were in Africa and the bible we read seemed to take place just “above Africa”, how did Jesus and the others become “white”?
  • Were people in Egypt “white” or “black”?
  • If “white”, how did they get that way, evolution?
  • What did that make Moses?
  • What color were the people when the Hebrews, Joseph, Jacob, and Abraham went to Egypt?
  • What happened and who built those pyramids?

As you could see, working backward from where we are today generates many questions that need to be answered. Just working from slavery in America to today only provides one narrative, and that’s HIS-story. Needless-to-say, HIS-story usually goes like this:

  • African’s were savage people that were running around uncivilized in Africa, so Europeans started off with good intentions by giving them Christianity and brought them here to America like immigrants.
  • The early immigration plan went too far, and some evil people misused and mistreated those Africans, and made them slaves and treated them really bad.
  • Remember, they were savages. Therefore, the “bad treatment” they received in the “New World” was still probably better than their lives in Africa because after all, their own African people sold them to the Europeans anyway.
  • It was all God’s plan for without slavery, Black people would not know Christ.
  • Overall, without coming to America, African’s would still be running through the jungle with spears and no clothes because they never advanced to be civilized like other “races”.
  • Glory, Glory, Halleluiah, his untruth keeps marching on…school year after school year.
egyptian-ripoff
Looks like culture theft was going on long before jazz, rock and roll and hip-hop!

How We Are Using

As I stated previously,  we are using the study guide as to set the pace for our lessons. Each day, my 15 and 12-year-olds have a portion to read and in some cases, write an essay on. As a matter of fact, I’m not going to go too deep into this as we will soon be giving an example! As their midterm final, they are to:

  • Choose any book in the bible.
  • Find a bible map that (if accurate and true) shows who inhabited that region when the book was written.
  • What nation was in charge?
  • How did they get there?
  • Based on what has been found and what Robin Walker states about that area, describe the people and their culture?

Now previously, one of the more interesting books in our library was written in 1881. What do you think that book said and what was the prevailing thought of “the negro” in 1881? Well, take a look:

Adams Map of History_LG.jpg

Now to have in the library, fine, as it’s an interesting piece of work. But to teach, no thanks (at least not for the purposes generally recommended).

Robin Walker opens up When We Ruled by asking in chapter one, “What is Black History?” He goes on to quote the aforementioned Professor William Hansberry along with Professor Cheikh Anta Diop, the great Senegalese scholar to narrow our focus and begin to break of the hardened ground in our minds. Then the chapter flies over North Africa, West Africa, Ethiopia, Southern Africa and the East African Coast, proving that pyramids, royal palaces, and many other great massive structures were built on the continent that remain to this day but is rarely seen. Why are they not seen and why are they not tourists attractions like the structures in Rome, Paris, and Greece?

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I learned that the Sudan has more pyramids than any other country on earth – even more than Egypt!

Photo Source: By Wufei07 – Own work, Public Domain,

https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=742032

When We Ruled is filled with many different diagrams, maps and photos throughout the 700+pages. So can find many various avenues to turn down to begin exploration on other historical events and places.

Now the next semester is soon upon us in a couple of weeks. If you do not have your copy (feel free to order from our affiliate link below) and want to join us on this journey, now is the time! But more importantly, now is the time to for us to know the truth about our past than we know about European history. After all, the knowledge contained in When We Ruled will do me and my children far more benefit, than knowing all about Zeus, Aphrodite, and Medusa, to name just a few myths that are forever etched in my brain taking up space.

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Click below to order When We Ruled:

When We Ruled: The Ancient and Mediaeval History of Black Civilisations