The art was performed black and non-black performers to mock a black person's caricature. The art was popular during the 19th century leading to the spread of stereotypes including "Happy go lucky ducky on the plantation" and the "Dandified Coon." During the 20th century, the minstrel show and blackface existed as one cat till in the late 20th century when blackface branched off becoming a form in its own right become a significant tradition in the American theater (Barthelemy, 1999).
Characters embodied as stereotypes within the shows proliferated racist attitudes, images, and perceptions globally. Despite its negative features blackface popularized the Black Country making it a significant cause of existing controversies within the society. Blackface has a long history within the country, and even in the 21st century, it's utilized as a form of cross-dressing and often applied during Halloween.
According to Eric Lot blackface represents a strange mixture of feelings to both blacks and whites within the society. It stirs up fascination, envy, desire, and fear between both races. In most of the shows white performers are utilized as the main stereotypes, and this depicts the fear that white people have towards the black society (Barthelemy, 1999). Change of attitude towards racism and race finally ended the prominence and growth of blackface as well as its imitation in the U.S during holidays such as Halloween.
Most character s within the show were portrayed as lazy, lying and buffoonish to fascinate and make the audience comfortable. At times even black people were forced to take part in the acting. During this time the blacks had limited superiority within the society, but despite being a sense of entertainment, the show was used by the whites to fight off the fear that one day the black race could turn out to be dominant. The black race had limited choices and was offered roles forcefully until early 1950. They were often given stereotype roles, and most women would appear as mammies and maids.
Within the world of contemporary art, blackface remains used as a theatrical device which acts as a reminder of the complicated history associated with it. Megan Kelly's shows was shut down after accepting blackface. The displays are generally revolting and mocking and act as a reminder of the period which racism existed within the society towards the black race (Barthelemy, 1999). The act depicted the blacks as slaves by creating visions and creating stereotypes of them as subhuman in every way demeaning the whole race. By imitating black dance, music, and speech in a "plantation dialect" it allowed the stereotypes to make dances, songs, and jokes that were written and acted based on the ugliest stereotypes among the African American community.
A lot of measures have been taken to prevent blackface shows and acts from being carried out to avoid uprisings and demonstrations (Barthelemy, 1999). However, judging from the cases of people imitating blackface in the 21st century confirms the reality on the ground that for the African American communities white supremacy and racism are inescapable.
Barthelemy, A. G. (1999). Black Face, Maligned Race: The Representation of Blacks in English Drama from Shakespeare to Southerne. LSU Press.
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