Back Then, No One Knew Blackface Is Offensive

October 6th, 2019 Barry Posted in History, Racism & Racists | No Comments »

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The Frederick Douglass quote in this cartoon is a paraphrase; I changed his words to better fit the tone of the cartoon. The exact quote is “… the filthy scum of white society, who have stolen from us a complexion denied to them by nature, in which to make money, and pander to the corrupt taste of their white fellow-citizens.”


This comic has four panels, plus a tiny “kicker” panel under the bottom of the strip.


Two men, one Black and one white, are standing on a sidewalk talking. The Black man has an angry expression and is making big arm gestures; the white man looks very uninterested and is raising a hand in a “calm down” gesture.


BLACK MAN: They found an old photo of him wearing blackface?!? What the hell was he thinking?

WHITE MAN: You can’t judge 2002 by today’s standards. People back then didn’t know blackface was wrong.


Two women are seated at a round tale in a cafe, with coffee cups in front of them. One woman is Black, the other is white. The Black woman looks very annoyed; the white woman is grinning, making light of things.


WHITE WOMAN: Sure, we realize blackface is racist. But no one could have know that back in the 1980s.


Two women, one Black and one white, are walking together in a hilly park. They are both dressed in stereotypical 1980s fashion: Big hair falling in front of their eyes, boxy jackets, etc.. The Black woman is scowling while the white woman speaks calmly, making the “explaining hands” gesture.


WHITE WOMAN: We know that blackface is offensive, but that’s brand now! No one had any idea until recently.


In the foreground, a Black man with a thick beard and impressive hair is orating, looking stern, while gesturing towards a man in the background. The man in the background is dressed like an actor from a minstrel show, and is wearing blackface.

A caption shaped like an arrow tells us the Black man is Frederick Douglass. A small caption next to Douglass says “paraphrased, but yes, he really said this!”


FREDERICK DOUGLASS: Look at this filthy scum! He’s stealing our complexion, just so he can pander to the corrupt tastes of other white people! What the hell is he thinking?

Small kicker panel below the bottom of the strip.

The two women from panel two appear again; the white woman is talking eagerly, leaning forward a bit, while the Black woman rolls her eyes.

WHITE WOMAN: My white friends and I all agree that Blacks are too sensitive about blackface.

This cartoon on Patreon.