Friday, September 22, 2006

Modern Minstrels

The Guardian's Hannah Pool is hacked off by Kate Moss's "blacking up" on the cover of Thursday's Independent (see picture). Basically, Ms Moss is supposed to be representing Africa, so she puts on some make-up, and takes a few photos. Et voila, a Moor emerges.

Even though I'm black, I've never been able to build up enough bilious rage to be upset by people blacking up. Either it's not offensive at all, or it's one of those latent forms of racism which some black people ( I have been one in the past) don't realise is being targetted at them. Nevertheless, Hannah Pool puts up a robust argument about why she finds blacking up despicable:
Have you ever wondered what Kate Moss would look like as a black woman? No, me neither, but for those of you who have - well now we know, thanks to a picture taken by Nick Knight for yesterday's Africa issue of the Independent newspaper.

You can just imagine the meeting. "Let's do an Africa issue," says Well Meaning Executive Number 1. "Great, who shall we get on the cover? Iman? Naomi?" asks WME 2. "Nah ... too obvious. I know, how about Kate Moss? Let's make her look African!" Cue much back-slapping at their own cleverness, followed by, perhaps, a lunch of jollof rice and curried goat to seal the deal. Read on...

There's also a history of blacking up to accompany Hannah Pool's piece.


soul said...

I saw this yesteray at work and literally let out a stream of expletives.

they couldn't even bloody get it right.
Ever seen a black person whose lips are exactly the same colour as every part of their skin?.
What exactly is this supposed to mean?.
that Kate Moss is still kate moss even if you dunk her in a barrel of tar or darken her skin..
Is it silly clueless season in the UK?.
I swear ... I weak.

Anonymous said...

Saw the cover this morning and my jaw literally dropped! What happened to using african models instead of blackening up Ms Moss?

But then again,the cover will attract attention and generate enough publicity for the Independent, which was their plan anyway.

The Dog of Freetown said...

Not to mention that fact that Kate Moss is, in most senses, hideous.

Anonymous said...

Well, living in the Netherlands, we have the tradition of Sinterklaas - Saint Nicholas to you and I.

He arrives with his helpers a few weeks before December the 5th when presents are doled out - it is more significant than Christmas or Boxing Day for presents, though we do not have a Bank Holiday to celebrate it.

Santa's little helpers called Zwarte Pieten (Black Petes) are blacked up indigenous Caucasian Dutch people who cause so much amusement because a little rub under the chin or eyes reveals the shocking colour of white.

Even with the number of people with natural negroid appearances in the Netherlands, you would never find a natural hired to be a Zwarte Piet, not that the whole historical context is that edifying apart from the fact that Zwarte Piet helps the big fat white Sinterklaas with giving out the presents and scaring the kids.

Blacking up a ex-drug dependant in the name of anything including fashion cannot excite enough disdain to consider it worthy of comment directed at the perpetrators - those beneath contempt are bereft of any redemption.

sondjata said...

Actually, yes, i have seen black people with thier lips the same color as the rest of thier skin.

soul said...

good for you Sondjata..

I on the other hand have never seen a black person (no matter how dark or light skinned, whose lips are the exact same colour as their entire skin and the only thing you can see are their eyes.

And way to miss the point completely. :)

Quest said...

She raises a point worth pondering - why do you need a white model in black face in order to draw attention to Aids in Africa?

I too could not wrap my head around the series "Black.White" because they seemed to imply that people are racist due to ignorance and if they only just hang around a few more black people, then structural systemic racism would vanish (why can't we all just get along??!!) I cannot understand the point of "going undercover" as a grotesquely stereotypical black person, or a grotesquely stereotypical fat person (Tyra Banks is an idiot btw).

ExtrovertedPrude said...

@ Akin...i know, i found that wierd when i lived in Holland. To think that some kids i came into contact with on St Peters day were actually scared!

At the Kate Moss idea...why? when there are black models everywhere. They could have chosen an obscure African model with distinctive looks to advertise their coause but instead they choose to insult. And i say insult not just because it was making white look black but portraying an ex crack whore as the model of what black people are meant to be. Here is where i say, in the voice of the nigerian with no words left in her vocabulary, waka and shege!

uknaija said...

I was going to blog about this but felt I din't have the time to do it real justice...and while we're on that point what do you think of the advert on the tube for the Red American Express Card, part of the profits from which go to the Global AIDS fund which shows a fashionably dressed blonde clutching several shopping bag as she leans against a Masai warrior- Is this the sanctification of shopping or what?

Perhaps as one of my Naija friends says I think too much...

ExtrovertedPrude said...

oops...its st. Nicholas day in Holland and st. Peters in Czech...oh well, same thing...tmi is not good.

internationalhome said...

@uknaija..i love your comment!
@ have indeed missed the point.

Talatu-Carmen said...

I'm not sure if this ad-campaign has been in the UK too or just in the U.S. but check out the apparently naked celebrities (including Gwyneth Paltrow, Giselle, Mick Jaggar, Ben Affleck, etc.) with random slashes of paint on their faces and beaded Zulu-ish jewelry.

The caption is "I am African."


It is going towards an obstensibly good cause to help raise money for families living with HIV... but at what cost? The same points you raise about the Kate Moss thing apply.
(scroll down until you see Iman and click on the link to see all the celebrities who say they are African...)

i don't have to make life so difficult said...

was that what it was? i thought it was
just som silly fashion stunt, and they'd painted her in silvery metallic paint.
is she supposed to look african? bwaaa hhhaaaa haaa hhaaa haaa...

Anonymous said...

I dunno what y’all are fussing over. You have a reformed crack head representing your people and you cant even show gratitude? A true modern day Juliet, her Romeo (lets call him King Pastor Wassiu Kolington Tongolo Plus the 3rd) a fantastic musician (as we all know most Africans are) who is currently in rehab trying to take charge of him lil problem. At least it isn’t alcohol abuse eh? Cocahina is a rich man’s drug and so clearly black people should be proud to have such rich er royaly (King Tongolo the 3rd) spreading the good gospel in a way that Bobbi & Whitney never could.

Power to the people.