Eric Lott on Ralph Northam and the History of BlackfaceRoundup
tags: racism, political history, Ku Klux Klan, Blackface, Ralph Northam
Eric Lott is a professor of American Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center and is the author of “Love & Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy & the American Working Class.”
To discuss the subject of blackface and its historical role in American politics, culture, and racism, I spoke by phone with Eric Lott, who teaches American studies at the cuny Graduate Center and is the author of “Love & Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy & the American Working Class.” An edited and condensed version of our conversation is below.
What did you think when you saw the photograph?
Here we go again. [Blackface] never seems to die as a collegiate, fraternity activity, which follows on decades of local performances of various kinds, Kiwanis Clubs and Rotary Clubs, which follows on the very long history of both Hollywood and vaudeville stage performance going back into the early nineteenth century.
The photo was obviously offensive and awful, but it was also weird if you don’t know this culture. There is a guy in blackface and a guy in a Klan hood. What’s the joke they are going for?
I know. I was trying to puzzle that out because that really is—to situate it in full context, with the paired costumes—an interesting thing to try and figure out, over and above the embrace of the blackface guise. And there is more than one of those, too.
comments powered by Disqus
- The U.S. Deported a Million of Its Own Citizens to Mexico During the Great Depression
- Ted Cruz criticizes Tenn. governor for day honoring Confederate general and KKK leader
- Why Trump’s Census Play Is Blatantly Unconstitutional
- Japan, South Korea raise stakes in dispute over forced labor. History helps explain the conflict.
- The President Didn't Always Have Power Over Trade Deals
- A female historian wrote a book. Two male historians went on NPR to talk about it. They never mentioned her name. It’s Sarah Milov.
- Her Book in Limbo, Naomi Wolf Fights Back
- Louie Howland, editor and award-winning maritime historian, dies at 81
- ‘Uncharted Territory’: For Historians Navigating Online Hate, a Scholarly Association Offers a Map
- Smithsonian interested in obtaining migrant children's drawings depicting their time in US custody