NHL Player Draws Attention for Dressing Up as Jay-Z in "Blackface"

NHL Player Draws Attention for Dressing Up as Jay-Z in "Blackface"

Many thought Raffi Torres’s Halloween costume was offensive and reminiscent of minstrel shows.

Published November 1, 2011

(Photo: Twitpic)

Phoenix Coyotes forward Raffi Torres raised a few eyebrows and earned himself a load of criticism when he showed for a Halloween Party dressed as rap star Jay-Z — with brown makeup, Jigga gear and even a baby-bumped Beyoncé-costumed wife to boot.


Torres was accused of using "Blackface" for comedic affect. Some people said it was racist and insensitive for Torres to show up in Blackface despite the fact he is a huge Jay-Z fan and it was Halloween.


Some people, like Thomas Drance of CanucksArmy.com, think the costume was in poor taste.


"Blackface has a particular, bigoted history that makes its usage beyond the pale in polite society. Even if Raffi's Halloween costume bears little resemblance to the Blackface of minstrel shows, the subject is too loaded to be a source of humour. It's off limits."


In my opinion, there doesn’t seem to be anything racist about the costume considering the occasion and the fact that Torres, as a person of Mexican and Peruvian descent, is a minority himself who understands discrimination.


Torres has previously said that he experienced racism growing up in Toronto and competing in what remains one of the whitest sports.


Though Torres hasn't spoken out publicly about the criticism, his team has thrown its full support behind him.


"There is absolutely nothing racist about Raffi and his wife’s costumes," said the team in a statement. "Raffi is a huge fan of Jay-Z and his wife loves Beyoncé. It was a Halloween party. The fact that this was reported is ridiculous."


What do you think? Was it racism, ignorance or an innocent non-issue?



Contact Terrance Harris at terrancefharris@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @Terranceharris

Written by Terrance Harris


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