Friday, August 24, 2007

Blackface is the perfect way to show solidarity with Africa

At least according to UNICEF, that is:
The United Nations Children's Fund is running damage control after its new German advertising campaign was not so-well-received. Someone had the not-so-clever idea to splash four blond child models in mud to create blackface.

The public service announcements intended to draw attention to the education crisis in Africa by appealing "for solidarity with their contemporaries" in Germany. The adverts appeared in, among other places, the most respected publications in the nation, such as Die Spiegel, Stern and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

You can follow the link to see two of the ads, though the translation of the German in the second one is incorrect. It actually means something like, "In Africa, many kids would be glad to worry about school."

UNICEF's reply, when outrage predictably ensued? "We apologize if you feel irritated by the make up of the children."

I suppose it could be that Germany, not having the same experiences as America did, simply doesn't have the same sensitivity to blackface, so they didn't really see anything wrong. On the other hand, Black Women in Europe is probably right:
...[T]he kids' statements ignore the existance of millions of african academics and regular people and one again reduces a whole continent to a village of muddy uneducated uncivilized people who need to be educated (probably by any random westerner). This a really sad regression.
Bottom lines of this campaign are: Black = mud = African = uneducated. White = educated. We feel this campaign might do just as much harm as it does any good. You don't collect money for helping people by humiliating and trivilaizing them first.

Via Pam's House Blend.

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