People Still Plead Ignorance to Blackface Racism Despite Constant Reminders

Why won’t blackface and other racist costumes go away?

The Atlantic

We’ve heard about blackface, of all things, a lot lately.

Virginia’s governor, Ralph Northam, and the state’s attorney general have both admitted to coloring their faces in jest at some point in their past.

Florida’s secretary of state also resigned recently after a photo surfaced of him mocking Hurricane Katrina victims in blackface.

So here’s a question: isn’t this so outrageous, so offensive, that we shouldn’t even have to explain why it’s unacceptable? And what is it about American culture, specifically white American culture, that continues to preserve space for this kind of crude mockery?

On Detroit Today, Stephen Henderson speaks with two people who have been thinking about this lately.

Adam Harris is a staff writer with The Atlantic. He wrote an article on Halloween of last year titled, “America Can’t Seem to Kick Its Racist Costume Habit.”

Jennifer Harvey is a professor of philosophy and religion at Drake University and author of “Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children in a Racially Unjust America.”

Click on the audio player above to hear those conversations.


  • Detroit Today
    Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.