For the annual Sullivan High School powder-puff football game there exists a tradition of the girls painting their faces as a way to lampoon the eye black that men wear on the gridiron.
Typically the girls paint their faces in a mixture of the school’s colors along with the eye black, but this year when the girls all met before the game they claim that each one showed up with the same color face paint: black.
So naturally they just covered their entire faces in black paint then showed up to the game to try and intimidate the underclassmen…But when everyone in the stands immediately realized there was an entire powder-puff team in blackface the girls claimed it was all just some big misunderstanding, nothing to see here, totally not blackface because it was unintentional.
Which leads us to the million dollar question: what constitutes blackface?
Is it simply the act of having the paint on your face, or does it require a sense of self-awareness?
These girls claim they didn’t know what they were doing was wrong or hurtful, but does that in any way change that it was in fact wrong, hurtful, and racist?
Scroll back up, look at that photo: that is blackface. If someone ever asks you what blackface is, show them that photo. A bunch of blonde chicks in pink shirts wearing blackface. It couldn’t be more obvious.
When a dozen teen girls in blackface ran onto the Sullivan High School football field November 5 for a powder-puff game, Jennifer Schmidt recalls her gut reaction as, “Oh my gosh.”
“And then I thought, ‘Oh, they don’t mean anything by it. Just let it go. No one thinks anything of it.’ I didn’t think anyone did,” says Schmidt, the principal of Sullivan High School. “Evidently, someone did.”
Schmidt adds that it’s been common practice for the senior girls’ team to wear face paint during the powder-puff football tournament, essentially as a parody of the eye black football players normally wear to decrease glare from the sun and lights. The face paint also serves to “to intimidate the underclassmen.”
According to Schmidt, in previous years the girls have wore combinations of the schools’ colors — black and gold. But when the senior girls arrived prior to the November 5 game, they discovered everyone had brought the same color face paint — black.
“So that’s what they wore,” says Schmidt. “There was nothing racial about it. They didn’t have any other intention other than to just try to intimidate the underclassmen.”
“I can assure you they will not be wearing black face paint again,” she says. “In fact, we’re probably just going to end the face-paint thing, and nobody wears any at all.”
Again, what constitutes blackface and when does it become offensive? Is it 25% of the face, 50% of the face? Does the amount not matter, only the intent?
So the principal acknowledges that she didn’t think anyone would mind, but 100% these girls will never be allowed to do it again?
It’s obvious that this was a horrible idea, from start to finish, but I’m mostly blown away that these girls live in such a sheltered world where (assuming they weren’t lying) they had no idea that their blackface antics could be deemed offensive.
I’m going to go on the record and say that anything beyond two stripes of eye black is useless. If you’re going to paint your face in your school colors, you’re an idiot but you have that right. If one of your school colors happens to be black, then you better be damn sure to paint the other colors on your face as well.
Look, I get it: everyone’s sensitive as fuck these days. But the fact of the matter here is that we’re still living in a country where racism is alive and well, and blackface is a glaring reminder of that. I’m tired of seeing dumbass, blonde suburbanites not knowing right from wrong, and making headlines because they’re too fucking stupid to have a sense of self-awareness. I’m just tired of it. As one of my colleagues just stated to me, ‘If they really wanted to intimidate the other team they should have written facts about teen pregnancy on their face.’
That said, I’m still very curious as to what you all think constitutes blackface, and if it’s unintentional is it still offensive? Because this post has created quite the furor inside the BroBible office.