Will White People Ever Learn That Dressing In Blackface Is Never Ok?
Keep your "tribute" girl .
Did anyone else watch the latest episode of The RealHousewives of New York episode? On Wednesday night, I gathered my things for the premiere. I caught the premiere of Potomac on Sunday, and it was a bit heavy for me with the marriage separations and lying about debt. I needed to check in on a few of my favorite white ladies in reality TV, and I live for a glimpse into the ridiculously privileged life of rich white folks every once in a while.
On Tuesday’s episode, Dorinda threw a Halloween party and the invite was for guests to dress as a celebrity, dead or alive. Roll in the privilege of professional makeup artists and costume designers because I can’t lie, these costumes were pretty dope. Dorinda called up the costume designer who made the “bubble dress” for an SNL skit about Lady Gaga and he offered to assemble the acrylic bubbles and leotard fit for her. Bethany showed up as a Barbie, and humble-bragged about the “drag queens” who did her hair and makeup (she looked amazing, I won’t lie). And LuAnn… Lord…
The ex-countess decided that she was feeling free, and while she seems to be recovering from a brand spanking new divorce (she lost her title once she remarried- something that almost every single one of her friends warned her against), she was feeling a bit too free in preparation for this party. Homegirl showed up as who she called “Diana Ross.”
It was not the obnoxiously huge afro wig that bothered me. I get it, in the 70s, afros were huge and sometimes they were wigs. If I never had an afro, I would want to tease my hair to try one out, too. But this afro was bigger than Amara La Negra’s added in hair extensions. It was obviously a wig and obviously meant to be a joke. I chose to let the hair thing slide, in the name of black girl magic, because there was something else that was extremely problematic.
I literally adjusted the color on my TV a few times because I couldn’t tell if everyone else at the party was extremely pale or if LuAnn had just returned from an island vacation with a bad sunburn. The latter was definitely not true. She was in some kind of brownish makeup that was an unrealistic, orange, clay-colored attempt at looking like a black woman whom I’m assuming was supposed to be named Diana Ross.
I wish I was at the party, dressed as Okoye, so that I could say something like “Look, a colonizer in disguise!” But then I would be wrong, right? When will people learn that dressing up in blackface is not okay? Many don’t know how to feel about LuAnn’s costume, but I know how to feel about a white woman in blackface. Every. Single. Time. I'm mad that none of the other ladies confronted her about it. Side eye to everyone in the room. A few of the ladies briefly addressed their surprise in their confessionals, but no one saw the need to confront LuAnn in person. I get it, you’re at a party with a bunch of other rich white people who are schmoozing and boozing in your company, maybe even finding the costume entertaining, so with all the drama in this group, who would want to make waves so early on in the season?
I thought that Bethany would. I thought that she would at least say something snarky like "Oh, so we're doing blackface now?” The episode began with her talking about and receiving an award for her philanthropy work in Houston and Puerto Rico- places where she was literally advocating for and helping black and brown people recover from crises, yet here she was silent in the face of one of her own acquaintances mocking blackness. To speak up in the confessional was speaking up after the fact. In true reality show fashion, LuAnn issued statements of apology following the airing of the episode, surely after receiving tweets and messages, and a phone call from her publicist letting her know exactly what to do. LuAnn will surely apologize during the reunion, maybe shed a few tears, and everything will be brushed over.
I just hope that in future episodes, we stop seeing white women dressed up as black women that they “admire” in ways that are unnecessarily offensive. Girl, you could have worn fake eyelashes and bellbottoms and called yourself “Cher.” Regardless of the appropriation, I’m looking forward to the remainder of this season of The Real Housewives franchise. Whether it’s Atlanta, Potomac, or NYC (the only ones that I choose to watch because Beverly Hills, New Jersey, and OC are too much for me), everyone is still being ridiculous, still making the same mistakes, and still rubbing their privilege in our faces for the sake of drama.