Julianne Hough, Blackface, and the Elusive Racially Charged Line


I’m sure you all have heard of actress Julianne Hough being under some serious fire for her Halloween costume portraying “Crazy Eyes” from the show Orange Is the New Black.

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A friend of mine started an interesting discussion on Facebook yesterday about it…

one that I find worth discussing.

Blackface historically was used in minstrel-type shows to portray and lampoon black people.  It was used to make a caricature out of a “stereotypical” black person, which is indeed different than darkening one’s skin to impersonate and actual individual.  If she wanted to go as a particular man, she may have donned facial hair… or a wig.  Is it somewhat the same thing?

Where is the line?

I think it’s an interesting and important discussion.

Here are some screen shots from my friend’s Facebook status:

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My friend has a very clear stance on the issue… but what about those of us that are not so sure?  Why is it okay for a comedian to impersonate Barack Obama on TV, but not for someone else to impersonate a television show character?

There is a difference between dressing and acting in a stereotypical way that generalizes a specific race.  It is another thing to dress up as a specific television character.  Impersonating someone almost always involves makeup.

I feel bad for Julianne Hough.  She did the only thing you can do in a situation like this – she declared not having bad intentions and apologized.

I would hate to be in her shoes…

and I won’t be…

because I have tossed both my costume ideas out the window.

I won’t be going as Tina Tuner…

or as one of the dudes from The Blue Man Group.

I’m thinking my safest bet is to dress up every year as Mulan.


jenni chiu sig



[rey-siz-uhm]  Show IPA


1. a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to rule others.
2. a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination.
3. hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.


3 responses to “Julianne Hough, Blackface, and the Elusive Racially Charged Line”

  1. Arnebya says:

    And the minute you don a hanfu you’re a racist stereotyping the Chinese. YOU CAN’T WIN.

  2. Alison says:

    If I had to dress up, I’ll just go as a candy bar or something.
    And Arnebya is right – you can’t win.

  3. Kat says:

    You would make a terrific Tina Turner.

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