There is a school that makes a splash on the Internet every year with their graduation pictures of unique concepts and parodies. It is the Uijeongbu High School, located in Gyeonggi-do Province. This year as well, their graduation photos made headlines, but something shameful has happened. Some students parodied Ghana’s funeral culture which is used as a “meme” on the internet. The problem is that the act of painting their faces black reminds us of the “blackface.”
“Blackface” is a stage makeup that non-black actors use to imitate black people by painting their faces black and exaggerating their lips. It was popular in American and British comedy shows in the 19th century and contributed to the spread of racial discrimination by making fun of black people. However, it became a taboo as black civil rights movements took place in the 1960s and was criticized for intensifying racism.
The photos of the students became a topic when Okyere Samuel, the entertainer of Ghana nationality, posted and criticized their photos on his personal SNS. His SNS comment section became a forum for debate as various opinions were exchanged such as “It was an act for fun and parody without any intention of belittling.”, “Painting their faces black is an apparent racist behavior.”, and so on.
At the same time, Okyere Samuel’s slant-eyed gesture on TV before drew attention. This is a racist behavior that belittles Asians. Some people criticized him, saying “Why do you feel offensive to the photos while you are doing such a racist behavior?” To quote Bette Davis, it is similar with “When a man gives his opinion, he is a man. When a woman gives her opinion, she is a bitch.”
In my opinion, no matter what the students intended to do, it was a racist behavior and it was wrong. Can they go to America right now and do the same parody? They could never do that. Likewise, Okyere Samuel was wrong. Although he did not mean to belittle Asians, still, he knew that it was a racist behavior.
Racism is still prevalent in the 21st century. Black civil rights movements have occurred recently, and some Westerners call Asians “monkeys.” We must understand each other and be cautious about sensitive issues and study them. Also, we must speak out constantly about racism.
Park Chae-Rin firstname.lastname@example.org
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