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MInstrel - Minstrelsy 22:07 Blackface minstrelsy was an...

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Minstrelsy 22:07 - Blackface minstrelsy was an entertainment tradition that stretched from the 1820’s through the early 20 th century - Black face performers who were almost always white before the civil war used Champaign corks mixed with water to blacken there faces - they would then perform imitations of black songs, dances and speech - they performed parodies of opera’s plays, and ethnic caricatures - minstrelsy was Americas first popular entertainment genre - blackface minstrelsy has been extremely important in American culture since its inception - it could be argued that minstrelsy helped to create American popular culture before the Civil War - Minstrelsy also spawned entertainment formats and stereotypes of African-Americans and immigrants - Despite these facts, most Americans don’t even know very much about blackface minstrelsy, and many aren’t aware that it even existed - It is the best kept secret in American history - Race Politics and Motivations for Minstrelsy From its founding, the United States recognized only white citizens as fully human and entitled to basic rights Black Americans could legally be owned, traded, and treated as human chattle This situation was problematic because, of course, black Americans were people too, and fully human From the very beginning, we see the paradox of nation founded on liberty driving its economy, at lead in part, using slave labor People made sense of this paradox in a number of ways, but one of the main was to use stereotypes Black people were portrayed in writings as not only lacking the full humanity of white people for cultural reasons, but as animals incapable of higher faculties Blacks, were portrayed as Hypersexual, Impulsive, Stupid Lazy, Athletic, and Instinctively musical These stereotypes were supported by studies in medicine and anthropology Race laws and court rulings were issued based on these studies
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And science remained complicit in reinforcing racial stereotypes through at least the mis-20 th century Nazi Germany was an extreme example of this All this work linking physical characteristics to intelligence and moral character has since been debunked Black Americans were well aware of these stereotypes They led to what W.E.B Dubois called “double consciousness,: which means that black Americans constantly carried two self-images or awareness How saw themselves individually and how white society saw them While those in power often used stereotypes to justify abuse, black Americans could also use them as a way to grab what opportunity they had Black entertainers and musicians would perform stereotypes of themselves for white audiences in America “Dancing for Eels” It was there way of making an income no matter how miniscule the money was - Origins and Early Development We can’t be sure exactly when white entertainers began to imitate these performances using face paint Some trace the practice back to Shakespeare’s Othello. The practice became
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