Phoenix Coyotes winger Raffi Torres painted his skin dark to look like rapper Jay-Z for his team’s Halloween party Sunday night. A picture of his costume was tweeted by Coyotes forward Paul Bisonnette, who began hearing calls of racism from offended folks.
Bissonnette, who is extremely popular on Twitter, immediately began defending Raffi’s costume. “As far as everyone trying to call “Racism” because Raffi dressed up like Jay-Z can simmer down. He’s a huge Jay-Z fan,” Bissonnette tweeted.
He even retweeted a question I posed on my Twitter account: How many people accused Dwyane Wade of racism when he painted his face white last Halloween to look like Justin Timberlake?
It’s not a wise idea to change your skin color under any circumstance — even ESPN learned that lesson — and it often is offensive. But before people begin having knee-jerk reactions the way they so frequently do, why not consider one important factor: intent.
Some people can’t see someone paint their face black without thinking racism. It’s the same thing with the name “Hitler.” Say it and prepare to be lambasted because it’s a trigger word. Few people bother to examine the context.
While “blackface” has a negative historical connotation, not everybody who paints their face is intending to mock black people. Those unaware of the historical context should be told why it can be considered offensive so they know better for the future. The point is that putting on black paint to look like your favorite rapper doesn’t make you racist. It may make you uninformed and somewhat inconsiderate, but not necessarily racist.Google+