Entries in Blackface (2)


Asian-American Frat Under Fire for Blackface Video

Youtube(IRVINE, Calif.) -- The Lambda Theta Delta Fraternity at the University of California, Irvine, has apologized after the release of a YouTube video featuring one of its members in blackface.

The video depicts members of Lambda Theta Delta, an Asian-American fraternity, performing to the Justin Timberlake Song, “Suit and Tie.”   Members say it was designed to promote an upcoming fraternity event.

Halfway through the clip, one of the members, in an attempt to portray rapper Jay-Z, appears made up in blackface.

Blackface is a type of theatrical makeup popularized in American minstrel shows in which typically white performers painted their faces black to create a caricature of a black person.  The shows commonly played on racial stereotypes and have long since disappeared from the scene.

“I feel personally offended at that act whether it was for ignorance, whether they just didn’t know about it, I feel like that’s not an excuse,” Ayana Baines, member of UC Irvine’s Black Student Union told ABC News affiliate KABC-TV.

Lambda Theta Delta President Darius Obana told KABC-TV the makeup was meant to distinguish one of the performers as Jay-Z.  “In a nutshell it was pretty much just to play that role and be Jay-Z and kind of distinguish himself from the other guys in the video,” he said.

The fraternity removed the video and apologized after the uproar, issuing the following statement on its Facebook page.

“Lambda Theta Delta sincerely apologizes for the extremely racist content of the ‘Suit and Tie’ video. The use of black face in the video is incredibly offensive as well as insensitive. This behavior is simply unacceptable and the individuals responsible for the video have already been reprimanded.”

The statement explained that the members who produced the video were ignorant of the history of blackface in America, and that the video was removed when other fraternity members who were aware of its potentially offensive nature became apprised of its existence.

Some UC Irvine students, however, said that the fraternity members who originally posted the video knew it could be viewed as offensive because they had inserted a disclaimer into the video that said, “no racism intended.”

School administrators are investigating the incident to see whether disciplinary measures are warranted.
“Once that investigation is concluded, we will determine where the facts lie, what appropriate measures should be taken, and if discipline is called for,” UCI Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Thomas Parham told KABC-TV.

Obana says that fraternity members have been harassed in the wake of the video controversy, and said that it wasn’t a “very educated,” move to post the video online.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


New York Pol Under Fire for Blackface Costume

Michael Nagle/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A New York politician is under fire for wearing blackface for the Jewish holiday of Purim — in which people traditionally wear costumes — over the weekend.

Democrat and Orthodox Jewish power broker Dov Hikind wore blackface makeup and an Afro wig as part of a “basketball player” costume at a Purim party at his home.

At a press conference outside of his home Monday, the veteran assemblyman apologized if he offended anyone and promised to be "a little more careful, a little more sensitive.”

After the news was first reported by the New York Observer, Hikind defended the costume on his blog, saying most of the people at his Purim party “also wore costumes” and it is “political correctness to the absurd.”

“Everywhere that Purim was being celebrated, people wore costumes,” Hikind said. “It was Purim. People dress up. I am intrigued that anyone who understands Purim – or for that matter understands me – would have a problem with this…There is not a prejudiced bone in my body.”

Purim is a Jewish holiday during which those celebrating, both children and adults, regularly wear costumes. The holiday celebrates the Jewish people of the Persian Empire being saved from a murderous plot from the evil Haman in the biblical Book of Esther. Often those celebrating wear costumes from the story, but others dress up as members of popular culture. The holiday also requires those celebrating to donate money to charity and take part in a festive meal with family or friends.

Hikind told the Observer a professional makeup artist applied the makeup to help turn him into a basketball player. He also wore an orange jersey and sunglasses.

Hikind’s son posted the photograph on his Facebook page with the caption, “How cool are my folks…lol”

Not everyone thought the costume was cool.

Democratic Assemblyman Karim Camara of the New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislative Caucus released a statement saying he was “deeply shocked and outraged by the insensitive actions of Assemblyman Hikind,” calling the blackface decision “callous and repugnant.”

“We, as leaders, have to be extremely careful that we foster understanding amongst our different cultural groups and not use the images of one as a tool for humor,” Camara said. “In speaking with many African Americans, both leaders and average citizens, the outrage is widespread. The history of the blackface minstrel show is something deeply painful in the African American community....The stereotypes embodied in blackface minstrels have played a significant role in cementing and proliferating racist images, attitudes and perceptions, which are still painful and offensive today.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio