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White Comedian Uses Blackface to Promote Campus Diversity?

White Comedian Uses Blackface to Promote Campus Diversity?

 

Written by Graham White, Campus Progress

Brigham Young University has garnered some unwanted attention recently after a YouTube video surfaced of a white comedian in blackface quizzing students on campus about Black History Month.

Students at the racially homogenous Mormon school in Utah offered shockingly poor answers. Only one of the interviewees correctly identified February as Black History Month. When asked to name prominent black historical figures, they name Martin Luther King … and rappers. The students even offer offensive impersonations of what they think black people are really like.

Watch the video below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=XGeMy-6hnr0

“I wanted to raise awareness in an interesting way and get a conversation started,” said the star of the video, standup comedian Dave Ackerman.

He succeeded.

Both Ackerman and the students in the video have received criticism recently for their roles in the YouTube hit.

Some criticized Ackerman for the use of blackface, considered offensive by many in the black community. Others chided the Brigham Young students for their ignorant responses.

“The kids are extremely naïve, and Ackerman exploits that,” said Darron Smith, a former BYU professor. “Where it went south was the use of blackface. He doesn’t understand how offensive it is.”

Above all, the video is a stark reminder of how important diversity is to a college campus. Less than 1 percent of the 30,000 Brigham Young students are black, with white students comprising more than 86 percent of the student body.

With some states now serving as battlegrounds for race-based affirmative action lawsuits, this video is certainly evidence that a more muscular defense of the diversity promoting policy on the national level may be needed.

As far as BYU is concerned, there is little doubt that the school would benefit from an increased emphasis on multiculturalism.

The video concludes with the tagline “Fight ignorance with ignorance.” One thing is for sure: When you fight ignorance with ignorance, ignorance wins.

This post was originally published by Campus Progress.

 

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Photo: screenshot from Youtube

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171 comments

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5:49AM PST on Jan 16, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

5:19AM PDT on Mar 14, 2012

What is the problem with blackface? I don't get it.

11:15AM PST on Mar 7, 2012

Another no-brainer: yes, it is possible to do the wrong thing for the right reasons. You can have good intentions and still f**k up completely. Meaning well is not an excuse.

11:12AM PST on Mar 7, 2012

Why is there even a question about whether blackface is acceptable? It's not.

Seriously, this sounds more like a question for yoisthisracist.com than for Care2.

For the truly unenlightened: racism is not just about hate. Racism is prejudice + power. If you didn't know that, educate yourself. I was going to add "before commenting on anything race-related" but seriously, there is no real excuse for anyone not learn this stuff.

9:30AM PST on Mar 7, 2012

Wow, I find this video very insensitive and just unnecessary. People are so ignorant! The fact that people are still clueless as to why these sort of happenings are wrong is the saddest part. Need I also mention the ESPN editor whom had no clue that using the word "chink" was wrong on one of their headlines about Jeremy Lin? Yes, people need to be educated, and I understand that this video was intended for precisely that. But it's attempt at originality and out of the box concept is tasteless, and a complete FAIL.

8:20AM PST on Mar 7, 2012

I think our education system should really delve into black history more than they have. As a social work major,we had whole semesters over this stuff and its FACINATING. A whole group of people getting together and getting things done. I believe black history month should really be put to use.. its a very useful thing for young people to understand how people overcame such adversity. It would be very useful to know and understand this, incase the time comes where another group of people must get together to achieve other injustices around the world. (I believe this will happen in the not so distant future)

8:27PM PST on Mar 6, 2012

I don't believe in completely forbidding something like this unconditionally...
While blackface has an ugly history, in my opinion some uses of it are much worse than others, and I wouldn't just bunch them all together as racism.

11:10AM PST on Mar 6, 2012

Charli wrote:
"Let's use our energies to work on other issues like Americans living in the streets because a few people wanted to get richer. Or Americans without jobs..or the fact that so many children die of preventable causes all over the world. Compared to these things isn't black-face a bit of a non issue?"
Charli......I agree. And as I have repeatedly written for more than several years now let us not forget the original settlers of this continent........The Native American indians.
The white man came, he looked the indians up & down & waved a few sparkling trinkets in front of the chietans & walla got a whole continent with little effort. And then told the indians where to go!!

The question is is, how long are blacks going to wail & threaten to riot for more than they have already received?.........The guilt tripping has got to stop! We know they are a color of black even if the are as white as Mariah Carey.
And Seth, indeed there are blacks I admire & respect a great deal!! For instance, Stevie Wonder. Who can match Stevie's marvelous soft voice & his most gracious manners. How about Colin Powell. Powell has more brains in his baby finger than Spike Lee has in his whole hateful head!!
And noooooooo I do not want nor need to live where every other person is a minority to please you and your liberal thinking!!!!

So there you go Seth.......I'm just one of seven billion people on this earth who don't bow & bend to the likes of you

9:47AM PST on Mar 6, 2012

It's a shame that people don't understand the history of black-face. Most black comedians used it to emphasis their emotions during their acts. As a woman of many heritages b(I am black, white, native American, Jewish, and more....a real "mutt") I am not offended by black face.

Let's use our energies to work on other issues like Americans living in the streets because a few people wanted to get richer. Or Americans without jobs..or the fact that so many children die of preventable causes all over the world. Compared to these things isn't black-face a bit of a non issue?

9:40AM PST on Mar 6, 2012

continued from previous post:

I have no doubt that my entire life spent living here, which included being taught history in a school system that actually made effort to integrate black history into our overall curriculum, has taught me far more of American history INCLUDING black history than you could have ever learned in just one year of living here.

I'm still not sure why you're singling me out to call me a racist when I have shown myself to be well-informed and non-judgmental, with the exception of judgments I've made based on actual statements made here by others which have given me reason to judge those making the statements.

Perhaps your efforts should be targeted against those who choose to segregate themselves and to show disrespect to people of races they view to be inferior rather than equal, but do not dishonor my by lying about me or mischaracterizing my words.

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