Nick Cannon’s White Face Stunt Isn’t Racist, It’s Brilliant (VIDEO)

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nick cannonThere was a collective squirm and shriek felt throughout the Internets last night. Did you feel it? Here's why. Nick Cannon put on white face to promote his new album, White People Party Music. He's posted photos and videos of himself made up to look like a white guy: Pale complexion, blond hair, beanie, flannel shirt. No big deal! Just a black man in white face, kind of playing with ya. Heh ... right? Except it's infuriated a lot of people and he's getting slammed as a racist.

Okay, let's talk about why a black man donning white face is vastly different from a white man donning black face. First, we start with a few pretty basic premises. Are you ready? Okay, here we go.

  • Black people have been discriminated against throughout American history.
  • White people have been in a position of power relative to other ethnic groups throughout American history.
  • There is a power imbalance that still exists between the two to a certain degree.

Now, if you don't agree with the above, then we really don't have anywhere to go in this discussion. (SIGH.) But if we can agree on these, then the rest of it follows.

Wearing black face is mocking a group of people who have less power and fewer resources than you do, who still carry the legacy of slavery on their backs. SLAVERY, people. And there's a whole history of white people using black face to demean black people for over 100 years.

Wearing white face is mocking a group of people more powerful than you, who are often in denial about the privileges that come with having white skin. It's saying, "Remember when you made yourself up to look like me? And it made us feel a certain way toward you? Well how you like me now? Feels weird to be on the other side, doesn't it?"

White face has been used by other comedians for satirical purposes. I'm thinking, in particular, Eddie Murphy's "White Like Me" short on SNL.

Nick Cannon responded to the backlash, saying, "It's funny how people take themselves so seriously. People love drama! We feed off of it. Just relax and have fun!!" We could take that at face value, but I want to believe Cannon is savvier than that. He knew his stunt would be provocative -- that's why he did it. I think what he's really doing is parroting back the exact same thing people say in defense of black face. Oh relax, it doesn't mean anything, it's just for fun, you're addicted to drama.

If anything, Nick Cannon is starting a potentially interesting conversation. That is, if we're up for it. If we can bring our brains and hearts into it. Or people can have the usual thoughtless knee-jerk reactions and move on. It's up to you.

What do you think of Nick Cannon's white face stunt?


Image via nickcannon/Instagram



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Siren... SirenaRobinson

In my opinion, and I know I'll likely be slammed for this, but wrong is wrong. If it's wrong to mock African Americans, then it's wrong to mock white people. You can't have it both ways. It's either okay, or it's not. That's the end of the story.

MrsCh... MrsChurch

I agree with you, Sirena ^^

nonmember avatar blue

No race should get a pass, because they have been discriminated against more or longer. Racism against ANY race should not be marginalized. Racism is wrong. Wrong is wrong.

Stephanie Anne-Marie Miracle

i agree with sirena. im not mad about it, but i do agre wrong is wrong. If you wouldnt want someone making fun of you, dont make fun of them.

curly... curlycues

Utterly disagree. If people shouldn't dress up in black face, you shouldn't in white face, or asian face, or middle eastern face or etc. Although personally, I don't completely agree with the no dressing as other races. It really depends on the heart behind it. If a child looks up to Martin Luther King and wants to look like him for Halloween, I don't see that as wrong at all. But, if the premise is, no to one, no to all. Also, don't give me he is "less powerful" because he is african american. He is one of the richest people in the US. Personal responsibility folks. I like Bill Cosby because of that.

can_c... can_can21

I don't care if a black person dons "White face" nor do I care if a white person dons "Black face". SOMEBODY is going to get worked up about anything and everything. We can't spend our whole lives living in fear that we will offend somebody because we WILL OFFEND SOMEONE BY JUST LIVING.

Get a grip everyone

jaxmadre jaxmadre

"Remember when you made yourself up to look like me? And it made us feel a certain way toward you? Well how you like me now? Feels weird to be on the other side, doesn't it?"

I never made myself up to look like a different racial group, nor would I.

I agree with Sirena.

So basically how many black people have to don whiteface before we make amends? The logic here is nonsensical.

nonmember avatar jormaK

I agree with Cannon. The thing is, though, he doesn't look white, he looks like an Asian dude who wants to look white.

ashjo85 ashjo85

I agree with everyone else, especially CurlyCues. Wrong is wrong. I thought it was LESS offensive when Julianna Hough painted herself when dressing up as a black character from "Orange Is The New Black". At least she wasn't trying to make fun of anyone! But to condemn her and celebrate him—HYPOCRITICAL.

Choco... Chocodoxies

Black face was a form of entertainment in which white people mocked black slaves with blackface. This is a black man mocking white people in whiteface. Neither is right. They are both racist as hell. Frankly, I'm tired of being portrayed as a racist idiot for the things done to black Americans over the years. None of them have been perpetrated by me and my only link to America's slave years is my ancestor who WAS a slave. For this reason I am tired of being pigeonholed as a "yuck yuck" yuppie white asshole. I'm just as tired of that image as black American's are of the uneducated gangster image that they are constantly fighting. I am not a stereotype, neither are millions of black and white American's. I for one will not be partaking in his album, "White People Party Music". I also did not ever see more than five minutes of that atrocious "comedy" White Chicks, just enough to know that it was racist and offensive as all get out. Here's a catchy idea; let's not boil people down to the color of their skin for a laugh or some quick cash. Let's start to realize that you are more than the sum of your physical parts. What a zany idea. 

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