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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College Girl

Hi everyone, I haven’t posted a blog post in awhile, and in this blog post I’ll explain why. Things have been busy since I posted my last blog post, My Views on Starting CollegeI have now put my plan into action and went through with what I said in my last post. I did so well during the summer that I decided to do another semester.

At my college there are two summer semesters, I took two classes in the first semester and one in the second. To start my college experience I took Sociology 101 and Pre-algebra in the first semester, then I took Introductory Algebra in the second semester. I passed all of these classes with an A grade. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be to enter college with no experience in school. Since I started in the summer, when there aren’t many students on campus, I didn’t have a classroom full of people. All my summer classes were what they call ITV classes, which are basically Skype calls where your professor and most of your other classmates are on a screen. This made it much easier to give I presentation in my sociology class. It was also easier than I thought to talk to people. At first, I was nervous to meet people on a daily basis, and I stressed over the little things like can you switch seats on the second day of class or is there an assigned seating code I don’t know about? But there was nothing to worry about, I was just freaking out about being with other people.

I also got to see all the people that left the class in the beginning or middle of the semester. There was one guy in my sociology class that was supposed to give a presentation on the second day of class, he ended up not showing up ever again. Then I just watched all the other students drop like flies. Seeing them leave gave me the courage to keep going when I wanted to cry because I procrastinated on an essay. I also made some companions in math class, which is honestly part of the reason I wanted to start college.

I am now in the Fall semester and I feel like I can do more. So I decided to do a full college load of 14 credits, and continue doing high school at home. Because of this, I made sure to download a lot of inspirational quotes for this semester on my phone. The classes I’m taking in the Fall semester are Interpersonal Communication, Intermediate Algebra, Anatomy and Physiology, and Survey of Jazz/Pop Music. My hope is to get at least two A’s and two B’s.

So this is my update post, I will try to keep people posted on what is going on, but I have a feeling that I will be really busy for the next few months!

-Lexi (a.k.a College Girl)

 

 

My Views on Starting College

At the start of this year, I had a goal of getting into an Early College program so I can graduate high school early and have a head start on college. I didn’t have many options when looking for such a program in Arizona, especially since we live in a city that is like an island. I narrowed it down to two programs, the Move On When Ready program and a local community college’s First Step program.

The Move On When Ready program focuses on you graduating from high school when you’re ready. After your sophomore year in high school, you can take a test to see if you can graduate from high school. If you pass, you receive the Grand Canyon Diploma that says you have met the requirement for high school. The First Step program is where a high school student can take classes for the summer semester, and still attend high school. In the end, I decided I would do the First Step program. Mostly because going to school always seemed like a fantasy, rather than a reality. I really wanted to get the school experience and find out what my friends say I miss not going to school.

So I started to gather as much information that I could about the program, then I told my parents and they were fine with the idea. The process of getting started wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be overall. I filled out the First Step form, then went to the campus to take my placement test. The placement test was what I was worried about mostly. Even though you cannot fail the placement test, I thought I might get a low enough score that I would not be able to join. I cannot speak of what was on the test, but I did do well. I then met with an advisor and he told me all about college and what classes I should take. So now I’m taking three classes for the summer to start my college adventure in late May.