Should we be concerned about Whiteface?

Djinn

Council Hall
Dec 2007
53,265
40,778
Pennsylvania, USA
Not really, for a number of reasons.

First and foremost, "whiteface" doesn't have a centuries-old history steeped in racism, discrimination, and persecution.

Second, it's extremely rare - even today. Aside from the two examples you provided, the only one that comes to mind is the old SNL early-80s Eddie Murphy sketch, in which Eddie Murphy goes undercover as a white man to experience life from a white perspective; a play on the book "Black Like Me." If you haven't seen the sketch, it's on YouTube.

Third, those rare instances of "whiteface," are not really done to belittle or mock white people. In the tragically bad "White Chicks" movie, two black FBI agents don whiteface in order to solve a kidnapping plot. In the SNL sketch, the joke isn't in belittling white people, but in exaggerating the perks of being white. I can't speak to the Chapelle character, not having seen it.

By contrast, blackface has historically been used to mock black people and promote negative stereotypes.
 
Mar 2019
5,238
3,260
In Sunday School with Hognoxious
Not really, for a number of reasons.

First and foremost, "whiteface" doesn't have a centuries-old history steeped in racism, discrimination, and persecution.

Second, it's extremely rare - even today. Aside from the two examples you provided, the only one that comes to mind is the old SNL early-80s Eddie Murphy sketch, in which Eddie Murphy goes undercover as a white man to experience life from a white perspective; a play on the book "Black Like Me." If you haven't seen the sketch, it's on YouTube.

Third, those rare instances of "whiteface," are not really done to belittle or mock white people. In the tragically bad "White Chicks" movie, two black FBI agents don whiteface in order to solve a kidnapping plot. In the SNL sketch, the joke isn't in belittling white people, but in exaggerating the perks of being white. I can't speak to the Chapelle character, not having seen it.

By contrast, blackface has historically been used to mock black people, and promote negative stereotypes.
If a white person is dressing as a black, brown, red or yellow person, doing it for Halloween or tv, is it racist? Even if it is not mocking that other person?
 

Djinn

Council Hall
Dec 2007
53,265
40,778
Pennsylvania, USA
It depends much on the context. However, blackface specifically has a history that cannot be ignored. Now if you want to get into whether "yellowface" is inappropriate for a production of "The Mikado," the matter is much more complicated.