White Lady Dons Blackface for African Tribes. Because: Awareness
The year is fresh but what’s really old is well-meaning white people who do things that make my blood pressure rise. I know, friend. You really wanted to honor us in some way but one way you could do it is by having a Black friend who has sense, so you can run things by them.
The latest in the WHY MUST YOU FAIL SO BAD? life series is from a Hungarian journalist named Boglarka Balogh. She says “she travels the world and writes about human rights issues.” Ok, cool.
Apparently, she has spent a lot of time in Africa (because of course), and she wants to let us all know about the struggling tribes there who are endangered. To do it, Boglarka photoshopped a picture of herself into some of the tribesmen because: awareness.
Her post was called “I Morphed Myself Into Tribal Women To Raise Awareness Of Their Secluded Cultures.”
All the NOPES that ever NOPED in NOPELAND. So much NOPE. Ma’am, if you don’t go occupy every seat in Kilimanjaro this moment!
She is raising awareness by making herself one of them in the most shallow way possible. It’s like me saying I’m a baby again by putting on a diaper and peeing in it. The hell is that doing for the price of formula in Beijing?
Why not raise awareness by simply telling the stories of these tribes? OR having them talk about their own experiences. She could record them and have them talk about what they’re going through. Take their pictures, record them on video, let them speak. She ain’t raising a lick of awareness by Photoshopping herself into a painted version of their images. Surely, we can’t understand their struggle without having a blond white woman juxtapose herself into their markers, like it’s Halloween.
Their pictures are RIGHT THERE. She had their pics. Why she thought it was necessary to then make them her own is beyond me. This is neither noble nor innovative. This is Blackface. Plain and simple.
In some of these pics, she literally copied and pasted her own eyes unto the eyes of the people, replacing them. Which, oddly enough, is exactly what white people have been doing to Black folks for a while. Erasing us from our lands, our contributions, our history, and forcefully putting themselves there. What she is doing here is way more oppressive than she thinks, as she is believing that she is somehow being a Good Samaritan documentarian. She is Columbussing the pictures of these tribespeople and patting her back like she just did something amazing.
Furthermore, I’m over this obsession with African “tribes.” When people use tribes, they usually refer only to the ones that are in rural areas, and untouched by Western technology. Because the only story they want to tell about Africa and Africans are of the struggles. They want to talk about the “exotic” which usually refers to “they do stuff that is so different from us that we must study them like fish in an aquarium.”
This is self-serving bullshit, and Boglarka is swimming in white privilege. She’s being a culture vulture. As she’s painting her face brown in a photo-editing software, she is doing nothing to honor the folks she is miming. And what does this photoshop project concretely do? It is the epitome of cultural appropriation and it needs to be in the dictionary next to a CAPS version of the word NO.
She is basically Quentin Tarantino’s cousin. ‘You guys. I’m only saying “NIGGER” 54 times in this scene to show how oppressive it is!’ Sure. The first 2 times, maybe. But ok.
And this article showed up on the website “Bored Panda.” How fitting. A bored white woman trying to get some Black on her. Very fitting.
I’m rooting for white folks who know better to tell their cousins to chill. Can folks do better in 2016 or is that too much to ask?