A common statement in defence of Blackface in Malaysia is that – it is all in good fun, a joke, harmless, or not done with the intent to bother anyone. But just because you’re not offended doesn’t mean that it’s not insensitive or hurtful to someone else.
Yesterday, Twitter user @minghui_xo shared some photos of local make-up artist (MUA) – Dhia Kassim who likes to do her make-up by imitating black women. She posed the question, “Is this blackface?” and we hate to break it to you – it clearly is.
The MUA captioned her pictures with hashtags like #blackwomen and #darkskinmakeupchallege where she gives her Asian friends (or clients?) a darker skin tone.
Don’t believe us? Take a look at these images:
Recently, the MUA posted a picture of her imitating the skin and makeup of a black NYX campaign model – Katrina Duckett.
The model took it upon herself to comment on Dhia’s post, saying that it was disrespectful to her – yet the MUA stood her ground with a very snotty reply… Sheesh!
Blackface isn’t just about painting one’s skin darker or putting on a costume. It invokes a racist and painful history in America. It’s been nearly 200 years since white performers first started painting their faces black to mock enslaved Africans in minstrel shows across the United States.
It was racist and offensive then, and it’s still racist and offensive today. Just ’cause we’re Asians, doesn’t mean we get a free pass.
Her Instagram – which recently has been set to private – had started getting comments from unsatisfied Black people themselves:
Many have stated that this was probably a case of being ignorant and we sorta understand that standpoint. The exposure to Blacks in Malaysia is limited and many of us watch ’em through music videos and other media in general. While some try hard to imitate them in the name of “appreciating their beauty”, it’s common sense to respect their culture too.
We ain’t even touched upon cultural appropriation yet (*coughs* Malaysian rappers who profit of their culture*coughs*) ’cause that’s a whole other topic. BUT, if they clearly state that it is offensive, who are you to dismiss it by provoking with a “any problem?” reply.
With social media being on our asses 24/7, we hope that Dhia will truly learn her lesson that blackface or any kind of racial stereotyping is unlikely to go unnoticed or unremarked upon today. Do better.
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