Playing Black: The Disrespectful Justification of Blackface in the Media

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Drake Blackface

To quote the pop artist Aubrey Graham, better known as Drake, “I’m in shock….the nerve…..the audacity”.   Like most Hip-Hop enthusiasts, I have been keeping up with the recent “beef” between Pusha T and Drake. Though there are many issues to be concerned with throughout the world, the trading of rap bars amongst “elite” rap artist fits as a form of entertainment at times.  After hearing a song entitled “Duppy Freestyle” by Drake over Memorial Weekend, like most fans I anticipated a response from Pusha T. Seeing that I personally have been a fan of Pusha T’s music throughout the years, I knew his response would be calculated and well-thought out.  Around 8pm on Tuesday, May 29th Pusha T delivered what many would consider to be a body blow response to Drake’s recent diss track, but it wasn’t the lyrics that caught my attention, the blackface image used for Pusha T’s artwork struck a nerve.

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The artwork used for the track entitled “The Story of Adidon” featured Drake painted in blackface.  I was immediately upset to see such a talented and top artist present himself in such a way that was definitely cringe worthy.  For brief historical context, mostly white individuals have used blackface in order to reinforce some of the negative/made up stereotypes that have haunted black people throughout the world for many generations.  Blackface has been used for years to add to the justification of mistreatment of black people. Categorized as a form of “entertainment” by those who have participated in the oppression of black people, blackface has found itself once again in the topic of discussion.  This time Drake, who identifies as a black man, is at the center of the controversy, which makes the concept of blackface confusing to some.

As I watched people throughout the world on social media go back and forth about the photo of Drake, I began to think that this is actually a much bigger problem than most social media users realize.  As I watched comments and videos, I made sure to pay close attention those that were able to mysteriously find justification in the photo. I actually couldn’t believe that some people were justifying it because he was black, but then again I’m not surprised by the thoughts of today’s social media scholars.  For people to find some form of justification shows the power that one artist has and it’s actually scary when given much thought. For a artist who considers himself black to have fans or trolls to cancel out their feelings of blackface in order to protect their favorite artist is astonishing. So at 2:30AM on Thursday, May 31, 2018, I issue the following open letter to Drake aka Drizzy aka Aubrey Graham:

Dear Drake,

I would like to inform you that the picture of you used as Pusha T’s diss record artwork is very disrespectful.  Allow me to tell you why since this photo is just now emerging and you never addressed it until now. The millions of black people throughout the world have been tormented by the stereotypical images of black people in the media and you have participated in that legacy with this picture.  Just so you know everything is not considered “art” some actions are honestly full of shit and should be addressed swiftly. I’ve seen some fans come to your rescue and justify the photo for you, but let me inform you blackface is not acceptable by anyone regardless of their race. Blackface is distrustful and hurtful to those who have to endure mistreatment simply because of their skin color.  You being a black man, there is no excuse for the photo and should be more thoughtful of your actions. You recently posted a response (not an apology) on your Instagram, which I found disrespectful as well. To minimize your response to such a topic to only an Instagram post shows you that are still not thinking clearly and you believe that the real world only exist on social media. Your fans and the people you have disappointment deserve a public statement with you actually addressing the photo besides you seem to never have a problem publicly speaking when it is “album mode” as you like to say.

Sincerely,

A black man who professionaly writes for a living, but decided to give you few freelance writing bars.

P.S.  send that invoice for the extra 20


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Andy J. Reid is a published scholar who has a background in History and African-American Studies. Originally from the small town of Sanford, North Carolina, Andy realized his talents as a writer when he was a freshman in college at Elizabeth City State University (ECSU). Since then he has gone on to obtain many distinguished awards and present at national conferences around the United States. When his is not researching and writing, he is providing services to the community through his independent writing/tutoring/mobile notary business.