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Minstrelsy was an American theatrical genre present from the end of the Civil War to the early parts of the 1900s that placed white performers in the comedic enactment of racial stereotypes about Black people. Today, people are so turned off by Blackface that they’re not willing to delve into the reason why it is considered offensive in the first place... and we haven’t learned from our past. Blackface isn’t dead. In this episode, we discuss the perceptions of Black people in the media; how we have discussions about challenging historical practices (that still persist today); and Spike Lee’s movie Bamboozled.
WE COULD NOT COVER EVERYTHING in this episode. There was no way. We didn’t have enough time to talk about images, photographs, and so many other stories… like the recent renaming of the Aunt Jemima pancake mix. The Aunt Jemima pancake mix was named after "Old Aunt Jemima," an 1875 song from a minstrel show that featured performers in blackface who wore aprons and bandana headbands. Read about Aunt Jemima’s name change here.
Though some might find this topic "challenging" or "uncomfortable", living with racial stereotypes is also challenging and uncomfortable. This is a conversation worth having. We recommend that parents consider that younger children (0-7) may not be able to understand some of the themes discussed in this episode. It is however important that if kids are online they are often exposed to racist content and concepts and that should always be discussed.
Resources for learning more about the American tradition of Blackface:
Family Discussion Questions:
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