2.9.19 A Deeper Look at Blackface

A Deeper Look at Blackface

NPR’s Morning Edition featured an in-depth look at the history of Blackface in American popular culture. NPR’s Codeswitch host Gene Demby points out that “Blackface has been a constant in American culture going all the way back to the country’s founding. It’s one of those inconvenient facts of U.S. history: a white supremacist cultural building block.” Demby also points out that blackface gained traction as part of the minstrel shows after the Civil War, at one point becoming the most popular form of entertainment in the United States through the work of figures like Al Jolson and even Disney’s Mickey Mouse. Speaking to why blackface photographs are being uncovered in a number of different places, Demby points out that social segregation and a subsequent lack of social sanction may play a role. Demby cites a PRRI poll that shows that three quarters of white people have entirely white social networks. Former FBI director and current Howard University lecturer Jim Comey forcefully argues in The Washington Post that “White people designed blackface to keep black people down, to intimidate, mock and stereotype. . . It was about mocking them and depicting them as lazy, stupid and less than fully human. It was a tool of oppression. As a college kid in Virginia during the 1980s, I knew that and so did my classmates.”
Peter Buttgieg’s Bid for President

In a recent interview with Meet the Press, Peter Buttigieg, a 2020 presidential candidate and outgoing mayor of South Bend, Indiana appeared to talk about the recent State of the Union address, including President Donald Trump’s negative comments about socialism. According to Mayor Buttigieg, the modern perception of socialism drifts from what socialist policies actually entail. “I think socialist in this context has become more of a name for name calling than an actual concept,” Buttigieg tells Chuck Tod. “I think this is one example where generations view this differently, and to me and my generation, I think that remark is incredibly out of touch. I understand that for an older generation living through the Cold War, when socialism was associated with communism and communism was associated with totalitarianism, calling something socialist could be a kill switch.PRRI shows that Americans aren’t in full agreement about what “socialism” really means. A 2018 PRRI Spotlight points out that, “A majority (54 percent) of Americans identify socialism as a system of government that provides citizens with services like health insurance, retirement support, and access to free higher education, according to PRRI’s 2018 American Values Survey. Forty-three percent of Americans say socialism is a system where the government controls key parts of the economy, such as utilities, transportation, and communications industries.” Tigabu adds, “Republicans are more likely than Democrats to say that socialism is about government control of certain industries (54 percent vs. 36 percent).” Buttigieg faces a crowded Democratic field of elected officials with more name recognition amid his quest for the 2020 nomination. If he were to receive the nomination, he would the first openly gay person to earn a presidential nomination. PRRI data shows that 48 percent of the country does not think that electing more LGBTQ people would have a huge impact on the country. Forty-four percent of Democrats believe electing more LGBTQ people would make the country better, compared to just nine percent of Republicans. 
U.S. Supreme Court Blocks Restrictive Louisiana Abortion Law

On Thursday, the Supreme court voted to stop a Louisiana abortion access law from going into effect. The law, the Unsafe Abortion Protection Act, requires a doctor to have admitting privileges at a medical facility within 30 miles of the building where the abortion procedure is being performed. The vote went down 5-4, with Chief Justice Roberts joining the four liberals on the bench, while recently appointed Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote the dissent. According to PRRI research, nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of Democrats believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases, compared to less than one-quarter (23 percent) who believe it should be illegal. Conversely, a majority (57 percent) of Republicans believe it should be illegal in all or most cases, while 40 percent say it should be legal.