Removing ‘blackface episodes’ is easy. Actually confronting racism in media isn’t

Rebecca Wanzo, associate professor of women, gender, and sexuality studies in Arts & Sciences


Every year, when I teach undergraduates about minstrelsy and blackface, I look around for a recent example — and I have never failed to find one. Fashion companies place grotesque images on clothes or bags. A white Australian performer like Iggy Azalea skips the black makeup but makes money by taking on an African American persona in her music. Anime clearly has a blackface problem.

But I have never used any examples from “30 Rock,” “Community,” “The Office,” “Scrubs” or “The Golden Girls,” which had episodes pulled or scenes edited out from various streaming platforms because they were deemed “blackface episodes.”
A number of these episodes, albeit to varied effects, comment on racism. Protests that have sprung from George Floyd’s killing and other recent cases of police brutality have had widespread effects, including new examinations of the politics of racial representation.
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