In recent news, an interesting petition made its way on an influential site known as Change.org, which allows users to create petitions for any cause, from mistreatment of employees to demands for a better and safer way of living.
The latest petition made its way across the Atlantic ocean to South Korea’s shores, and it is a request to have Korean Broadcasting companies ban the use of “blackface”. “Blackface” is a practice that is made in context to mimic African-Americans, and while in older times it was considered to be humorous, it is now highly frowned upon for its offensive nature. Black face is used across the globe to describe these physical attributes, without acknowledging the offense it causes.
In the petitioner’s plea to end the offensive practice, she wrote about how laughter is used at the expense of another race, stating ,“Blackface, unfortunately, has allowed privileged people the opportunity to demean and dehumanize black people or dark-skinned people through racist caricatures and harmful stereotypes under the guise of comedy and humor. Through blackface, performers have routinely characterized black people as savage, uncouth, primitive, unsanitary, unintelligent, and belligerent; the same descriptors used for wild animals. To exacerbate matters even further, these stereotypes have cemented themselves in virtually every other part of the world, facilitating the sentiment of anti-black racism.” She also added, “Clearly, this practice has found its niche in Korean entertainment with example after example of gag artists and idols painting themselves as dark-skinned or black in an attempt to imitate other dark-skinned Asians or black people in order to cause laughter among their Korean audience.”
They then also pointed out that it is affecting a large sum of their international fan base as well. The act was compared to “slanting your eyes” to appear Asian. To close off their statement, they asked that each Korean Broadcasting company would acknowledge the request, stating finally, “To that end, we international fans of Korean entertainment, ask for Korean broadcasting stations to ban the use of blackface. We ask that you respect our humanity as black people and do not demean us for your own pleasure. We ask that you treat us as human beings, not to be made fun of for your own enjoyment. We ask for the right to continue to express our love for your culture and entertainment without feeling disrespected and saddened and inferior because of the color of our skin.”
While blackface being offensive may seem obvious, many will argue that its harmless, since Korea is now going through cultural diffusion and is slowly becoming less homogenous. Many will state that Korea is new to the idea that foreigners are taking an interest in their culture, and so it is a learning process to discover what is appropriate and what isn’t now that the world is watching them.
You can read the petition in its entirety here, and if you agree with the statement, by all means add your signature.
Since most of our readers are internationals, what do you think of the blackface practice, and do you feel that Korean broadcast should stop this practice? Comment below.
Edited by: Laura Dees
MORE RELATED ARTICLES