Commentary: Britain’s Teachable Moment in Blackface

The award for 2013's first blackface incident goes to a 10-year-old?

Posted: 01/03/2013 02:33 PM EST
Hadji Diouf blackface

(Photo: Twitter)

Parents: If your child walks out of your house in blackface, you’ve failed.

On New Year’s Day, a 10-year-old fan of Britain’s Leeds United football star El Hadji Diouf did what any zealous child would do — he dressed up like his idol and attended a game. Unfortunately, the costume went a little too far as the young fan painted his face and arms to resemble the skin color of his favorite player. His garb grabbed the attention of many team officials and the main man, Diouf, himself. But apparently, it didn’t cross his parents’ minds that perhaps the whole skin-shading bit wasn’t the best look.

After what appeared to be an exhilarating day for the boy (judging from his beaming smile in the photos), he posted several of his pictures to his Twitter account where he was quickly admonished for donning the racist getup.

“Theres only 2 El-Hadji Dioufs...this is how I've come dressed today,” he tweeted, oblivious to the racial implications of how he looked.

After the boy was bombarded by messages calling him racist, his father took to Twitter and retorted in defense of his son:

“He asked to dress up as Diouf so we let him for a bit of fun. We completely underestimated the response it would get. Hes only 10 and likes the banter so lay off please thanks for positive comments.”

Of course, the boy is only 10 — that part is clear. But how old are the people at home who helped the boy slather himself with makeup and “dress up” like a Black person? Although it’s unfortunate that the young fan had to have such an exciting day tarnished by public ridicule, I’m glad someone took the time to point out the error of his blackface. Clearly his parents were resigned to letting him grow up thinking Black people are a caricature costume that you can throw on for any festive occasion.

Blackface is never going to be OK. So for the sake of all the people who will have to some day deal with your child, please sit them down tonight and explain that your own skin is the only one you should ever try to wear.

“I didnt realise i wud get this much attention thanks for your comments but im gonna watch rest of match now,” the boy tweeted later that evening. “Just to let u know that the makeup and hairstuff i was wearing was from a fancy dress shop and washed straight off am now in my pjs.”

The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.

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