Category Archives: Blackface

Connie. Gabby. Work!!!



Yesterday, as I was writing about Constance Jablonski’s blackface-with-a-random-Black-baby shoot, deja vu struck. Hard.

I was all like, “Is it that this chick looks like ‘fro’d out Claudia Schiffer on the cover of Stern Fotographie? Like French Vogue‘s shoe-polished Lara Stone? Al Jolson freaking “My Mammy”? Marsha Ambrosius?”

Then it hit me: Under the frankenlights of an ignorantly conceived and poorly executed photo shoot, the ruddy Frenchwoman Jablonski and a dark brown, Senegalese-American superstar by the name of Gaboure Sidibe are about the same complexion—chestnutty, with newborn baby poo undertones. Fashion magic!

Pantone, MAC, Sherwin-Williams: If you’re looking for a color-branding specialist, I’m available.

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Filed under Blackface, crazy+racism=cracism, Shady lady stuff, Should be embarrassed, the devil's work, Uncategorized, Vogue

High fashion is confusing to Ak

a White model named Constance Jablonski. A Black child. Grass, ostensibly African grass..

This is a swipe from a recent Numéro magazine shoot. The French model, Constance Jablonski, usually looks like this:

Constance in her natural habitat

Now, if you’re a pedestrian size 8-to-10 like me, you may not have heard of Numéro before. According to its website, what may look like litter pan liner to you is actually an “international” magazine that offers “an avant-garde view of the worlds of fashion, art and luxury.”  Apparently, “both today’s icons and tomorrow’s master talents” contribute to Numéro.

In comparing the magazine’s stated mission to the clichéd, colonialist-porn pictured above, I got confused. I hate being confused. So for my own clarity, I jotted down a few questions:

1. What is Constance doing in this picture? Why is she wearing an afro wig circa Foxy Brown and brownface circa Soul Man?”

2. Why is that baby standing in dried grass damn-near naked when Constance is layered and aggressively accessorized?

3. Of the 17 covers crawling atop Numéro‘s homepage, why is there a White person on every single living, loving, motherfucking one? And of some 60 back issues for sale, why are there just two people of color on the covers? I mean, the White woman with bangs, the White woman in orange eyeshadow, the White woman in green eyeshadow, Kate Moss in turquoise eye shadow, the White man with black fishnet on his face, the White dude spitting water into the air, and Jude Law are perfectly lovely. They are. But doesn’t this seem strange to the current icons and future masters and avant-garde-y people of all stripes who rabidly consume high fashion and images of it?

If I come up with some sensible answers, I’ll let you know.

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Filed under Blackface, crazy+racism=cracism, Shady lady stuff, Should be embarrassed, stream of consciousness, Uncategorized

I’m not a hooker & other fun stuff

I’m going to try to keep this brief. Three things happened this week that in a roundabout way are about bodies and body image because they’re about the ways that Black people’s bodies are seen and depicted, which has everything to do with how Black people (like me) go on to feel about ourselves.

So, the first one: I was at a book reading for my friend Lori Tharps’ new memoir Kinky Gazpacho, about her life as a Black American woman who has had to contend head-on with racism and racial ignorance in Spain, where her husband is from and where she used to live. During the q&a she asked me if I’d mind talking a little about racial attitudes that I encountered when I lived in Barcelona. So to a room of strangers I described how at least twice a month some old Spanish man would approach me as I was walking down the street, usually in the afternoon, sometimes as I carried grocery bags, always when I was dressed in something about as sexy as a sack, get right up on me and whisper in my ear the question that every woman just waits to hear: “How much?” Sometimes, just so I would be totally clear on the fact that they thought I was a hooker, they’d rub their crotch and smile crookedly. This happened a lot in the year that I was there and I told the Borders bookstore audience that every woman of color I know who has spent significant time in Barcelona has also been mistaken for a prostitute.

One (White) man in the audience decided to challenge me. He said that the Spaniards, at a church right outside of Barcelona, worship a Black Madonna and hold her more sacred than just about anything. He continued that the problem is that Americans are too caught up with being PC and Europeans know how to keep it real—if they see a beautiful woman, they will tell her that she’s beautiful.

I explained to him as calmly as I could, as my hands shook, that I have been told that I am beautiful by many men, in Spain and all over the world. And I’m aware of the difference in that and being propositioned as a whore. And even though I didn’t mention that I could give a fuck who Barcelonans worship, I did add that being mistaken for a hooker had everything to do with my being Black. I think I said that last part like three times, even though it wasn’t necessary but just because my least favorite thing in the world is when White people tell Black people we are mistaken about something being racist.

Second thing: Ak and I decided last week not to post the LeBron James Vogue cover. We both mentioned a lot of high-handed intellectual reasons, but really I suspect it’s because we didn’t want to think about it. But then yesterday we both saw the cover and a King Kong poster side-by-side and after our stomachs were done lurching (honestly, mine did), it seemed remiss not to put it here. So…here you go. Hope you didn’t just eat:

King Kong

And finally: Today I read about a college in North Dakota that put on a performance that included a White student in blackface as Barack Obama getting a lap dance. I think I’m naïve because everytime I hear about the side-slappingly good time that people have watching blackface I really don’t understand. Not even a little bit. Can someone explain to me why it’s funny?

blackface

Where am I going with all of this? I’m just mad and I wanted to share. I thought it would help my rage, but instead it just boiled up and over again. So much for talk therapy.

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Filed under Barack Obama, Blackface, King Kong, prostitution, Spain, Vogue