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.

This is America: Observations and Thoughts

This is America

Childish Gambino’s “This is America” music video has swept the nation with its poetic lyrics and its hidden messages. The song has only been out for a week (as of this writing) and the music video already has over 139 million views on YouTube. With its growing popularity, I have decided to compare this music video to Neely Fuller’s view of entertainment. Also, breakdown the contents and significance of his music video.

Background of the Music Video

The music video takes place in a warehouse, and starts out with a guitar on a chair as a black man comes, picks it up and sits in the chair. The camera moves and you see Childish Gambino standing and as the music plays, he starts to dance. He dances towards the man, who before was sitting down playing the guitar, but now has a bag over his head. When Childish Gambino is right behind him, he pulls out a pistol and shoots him. He then hands the gun over to a teenager in a school uniform and starts dancing again. While dancing, teens come and start dancing behind him. Also, while they dance, you can see that there is rioting going on in the background along with a police car.

After, the camera shifts and you are in a room, and a church choir is singing. Then Childish Gambino comes in and starts dancing while they sing. And while they sing, Childish Gambino stops and is tossed an automatic rifle and shoots the choir, which could refer to church shootings. He then hands the rifle to the same teen he handed the pistol to. He dances out of the room and in the background, there is more rioting. Then he dances some more while the rioting goes on around him, then the camera shifts and you see the teenage dancers start dancing again. After a while, the camera shifts again revealing teenagers with bandanas while holding their phones, appearing to be filming the riot. Then the camera moves to show Childish Gambino and the teenage dancers dancing again, and still in the background you can see that the rioting is still going on. Then you see a white horse pass by with a white guy riding it. Then the teenage dancers dance in a circle around Childish Gambino, seeming confused, but is shocked when Childish Gambino acts like he shoots a gun. Then while everyone is running you hear a faint scream. Then Gambino lights a cigar and walks away.

After, the scene changes to Gambino walking up a car and standing on top of it. Then starts dancing on it while the camera zooms out, and shows old cars surrounding him and the black man who got shot in the chair (earlier in the video) and a woman sitting on a car. Then the camera shifts to a scene where he’s running from white people.

Dancing in the Music Video

The dancing in the music video is very African centered. When Childish Gambino is about to shoot the Black man playing the guitar, he poses by putting his butt back and putting his right hand on his hip. I assume he got this pose from a Jim Crow poster of a Black man doing the same thing.

Lyrics in the Song

When the song begins, you hear what seems to be Africans singing, they may be singing to the Europeans that come to “colonize” them. Also, when they reveal Childish Gambino, he starts singing, “We just want to party, party just for you. We just want the money, money just for you.” The “you” may refer to America, and how Americans just want to party and want money all the time. Then when there was rioting going on behind him, he says, “Police be tripping now.” Very likely referring to the police killings and beatings on Black people. Also, while the rioting is going on behind him, he says, “Yeah, yeah, this is guerilla.” Meaning guerilla warfare, referring to the riot that was going on.

Does the Song Fit Neely Fuller’s View of Entertainment and Does It Promote Justice?

In Neely Fuller’s book The United Independent Compensatory Code/System/Concept: A Compensatory Counter-Racist Code, it says, “During the existence of White Supremacy, always expect most so-called “entertainment” for Non-White people to be, basically, pitiful, primitive, stupid, and/or silly.” So, the question is, does the song make Non-White (specifically so-called Black) people look pitiful, primitive, stupid, and/or silly?

It may be viewed a little silly (since during the music video, Childish Gambino has no shirt on), but I don’t view it as making Black people look pitiful, primitive, or stupid. Also in Neely Fuller’s book, he says, “Do not “dance,” or participate in so-called “group-dancing” unless all of the persons participating have a collective understanding of what the “dancing” is designed to produce, in regards to the result.” Since it seems that Childish Gambino (and his background dancers) meant for this song to point out all the disorder in America, I think the song fulfilled its purpose. Now for the important question, does the song promote and/or produce justice?  I think that the song may promote justice, in the sense that it may get people to think about all the disorder in America.

The song itself is good (even though it does say one curse word). If the black (i.e. Non-White) people watching it were to look at the video in close detail, I think people will be shocked at what they find. All in all, I think the music video does produce justice and sends a wakeup call to the nation.

This has been my thoughts and observations of the “This is America” music video. I hope you enjoyed this blog post and learned something while reading it.

-Big Homie

A New Year And A Time To Overcome Old Struggles

OldMe_NewMe

First I have to say, Happy New Year to you as we enter 2018. No way to not date a blog post as you can look right at the date of the post right?

After a long 2017, I’m very glad to at least have the opportunity for a new start. This year, I’m all about trying to get more content posted. One error I may have made in prior years was not posting in the midst of struggles as I want to help others through the hardships of homeschooling as well. Over the years, people have said, “It’s so easy for you all to do it, but for me…” and then the excuses start flowing. Well, let me tell you, it’s not so easy for us.

The 2017-2018 school year started with me taking over the role as the sole educator. My wife is focusing on building her career as a doula. Therefore, I started teaching my 13-year-old, 11-year-old and to a certain extent, my 16-year-old as well (much less work is required with her as she is in college full-time right now as well). This has been more challenging than I first anticipated for a number of reasons.

First, my “9 to 5” workload did not see the expected decrease. For over a year, I have been playing more of a significant role in our group after the loss of two veteran colleagues. That means more meetings (some useful, most not) and more responsibility to make sure money gets made and customers notice very little of our internal changes.

Second, my Big Homie and Boney have completely different learning styles (although  I am hearing there is no such thing…more on that in a future post) from each other and different motivations than my oldest two. While this should be obvious, unlike society’s school, my job is to motivate, meet and lead them in their optimal learning sphere, not just from my learning sphere, a curriculum or other students sphere. Big Homie, once he focuses and if he’s engaged, is a tremendous problem solver. The struggle is to keep him focused. Of course, I’m so glad to be his teacher because if he were in society’s school, he’d likely be doped up on meds to make him “conform”, I mean…pay attention. Boney’s attention span is equally short as well, but she struggles with reading so more hands-on help is necessary for focus and explanation of lessons.

I’m going to be honest with all of you. I confess that there have been many nights I have felt like a failure.

As I have been focusing on work, other household challenges and my own health, there have been too many nights I have gone to bed feeling like I should have done more. I have been trying to at least get seven hours of sleep before starting my 6 A.M. workday in the home office, but that means I’ve gone to bed knowing I need to check work, but I’m exhausted and just don’t have much in me to push through.

I am a big goal person, so now this is one of my top priorities for 2018. I have a personal standard to do better because they deserve more and I know I can do much better. Don’t get me wrong, I think they have learned a ton over the last four months but I know we can do more and accomplish more.

So let me start this year by remembering one of my favorite Fredrick Douglas quotes,

If there is no struggle there is no progress.

I am standing on that quote right now. If you are homeschooling and struggling, or wondering if you can do this, I want you to stand on it as well. No, this is not easy financially; it takes time, resources, energy to bring it EVERY DAY. There are no days off in this game. But we focus on the payoff at the end of the race, knowing that the years will be gone before we know it.  We will look back knowing we have left our footprints in the drying cement of their hearts and minds. My size 12s are there, flat-feet and all saying,

“You have been taught at an incredible price because you are a worthy investment. Live like one and carry our new tradition from generation to generation. A new family tree and legacy with minds filled by Dad.”

It is not easy, but thank God for the grace to keep striving to get it right and for seizing this new year he has given us.

 

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)