If you are a professional actor performing a role and you need to alter the color of your skin as part of that role, you can do it. Robert Downey Jr. and Roger Sterling spring to mind. Dave Chappelle and Eddie Murphy have done it (though going from black to white isn’t even the same thing as going from white to dark).
If you are anybody else, you can’t. You can’t do it for Halloween; you can’t do it “ironically.” You just can’t wear blackface. If you do, you are a racist. Wearing blackface in public for fun is dispositive on the issue of your racism. And it’s dispositive on the issue of your own intelligence and creativity: if you can’t pull off the costume without darkening your skin, you’ve probably missed the point of your costume. It’s not like I’d need to wear whiteface to go as [trying to think of the whitest white person] Boss Hogg.
These are simple rules that have been with us for years, but people still keep screwing up. And when they do, it touches off a “conversation” about race — as if we need to talk about why some racist people wore blackface and thought it was okay.
Why did these law students dress up in blackface to go on a pub crawl? Because they’re racist, the end….
The story from the Daily Mail has details about the “fancy dress” party put on by the Edinburgh Law Society:
A group of law students were at the centre of a racism row today after they ‘blacked up’ for a fancy dress drinking session.
The ‘Beerienteering’ event, organised by The Edinburgh University Law Society, had an Around The World fancy dress code.
But four members sparked outrage after pictures emerged of them dressed as Somali pirates with their faces painted black.
Do I have to show a picture? It’s white people with face paint and military fatigues. They don’t even look like “Somali” pirates… they look like starship troopers wearing blackface. Fine. Here.
You know what bugs me, beyond the obvious? These guys wore blackface to “fully commit” to the costume, right? But what about THEIR FREAKING WHITE BOY HAIR? Oh, no, let’s keep that, people will understand we’re just in costume. Shave our heads? Go to the hairdresser? Come on, it’s just a pub crawl. Let’s not go crazy, just throw on some BLACKFACE because the difference between Jack Sparrow and Somalians can only be understood through skin color. Oh, skin tone and this Starship Troopers blaster my nephew left over when he came to visit.
Again, these guys are just racist, not overly committed to verisimilitude.
In any event, students at Edinburgh Law have disavowed these yabbos like they just kidnapped Captain Phillips:
Nadia Mehdi, vice president of Societies and Activities at EUSA [Edinburgh University Students Association], said: ‘I’m really shocked to see that in this day and age these students weren’t aware of or chose to ignore the offence they would cause by painting their faces black.
‘It’s not acceptable and should not be condoned. The Law Society is not a EUSA society so we can’t discipline them, but I will be bringing this to the attention of the Law School.’
Keir Gilius, President of the Law Society, said in a statement: ‘The fancy dress theme was All Around the World.
‘As a society, we try to arrange our events with innovative and interesting themes leaving scope for attendees to use their imaginations.
‘In no way was this theme intended to incite racism or cultural appropriation and, as a society, we are vehemently opposed to discrimination of any form.
‘On behalf of the members of our society, we apologise unreservedly for any upset caused.
“All around the world,” people know they shouldn’t be wearing blackface. We don’t need very much imagination to know what these law students were thinking.