Today on NPR a sorry excuse for a white male, who said he was a professor—pity the students—was sympathizing with the hurt that blacks feel when a white person puts on black face and dresses up like a black person. The professor said that this was not unique to Virginia and the South; white people did this hurtful thing all over the country and also once attired themselves at costume parties in KKK outfits. If the professor understood that all this was done in fun as entertainment and not as expressions of racism or hatred toward blacks, it still somehow constituted “hurt” to black Americans.
NPR also had present an older black man who was a musician in a white rock ban that often performed at fraternity parties. Pressed to say whether he had ever encountered anyone in black face, he said he did on occasion. Being older than the white male professor, he seemed to understand that what was going on was entertainment, not a demonstration of disrespect or racist feelings. Nevertheless, egged on by the NPR host, he felt obliged to say it could be a bit hurtful.
The program did not explore whether it was hurtful to white people and George Washington’s descendants for a person to dress up like George Washington, or whether witches are offended by witch costumes, or goblins by people pretending to be goblins. In other words, the NPR program was only about using the news about Virginia Democrats who costumed in black face decades ago for the purpose of underlining that blacks are a victim group of white racists. The NPR program was an exercise in Identity Politics.
The misinterpretation of black face as “hurt” is a product of the humorless Identity Politics of our sad era. Anyone who regards black face as ridicule of black people could possibly be restored to sanity by watching this Dean Martin roast of Sammy Davis Jr. What would today be damned as the most humiliating of ridiculing insults has Sammy Davis Jr. and the other blacks at the dais in tears of laughter. The black participants themselves lay it on thick. Everyone has a good time. If this happened today, they all—white and black—would be forced to deliver groveling apologies. Sammy Davis Jr. would be called a self-hating black and have to apologize for laughing at himself.
Watch this video from past times, and you will see what an absurd humorless country we have become: