SocietyMay 28, 2018

So you want to wear blackface? A step by step guide to being the absolute worst™


Ever wanted to make an unfunny joke and be deeply offensive at the same time? Harcourts has all the answers you need.

As time moves forward with irreverence, being progressive can sometimes mean merely trying to stay afloat in an ocean of acronyms, causes, and political correctness. Luckily there’s one thing we can all agree belongs in the depths of this ocean, down where Ursula lives. And that one thing is blackface.

Or is it really that bad? According to eight Harcourts employees, not only is it not that bad, it’s actually good. An image has surfaced online of the group posing at the real estate agency’s national conference last weekend dressed up as the Cameroon athletes who went missing from the village at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

Some bad-taste jokes are made at the wrong time. Most aren’t funny. But few require as much forethought as attending a national conference, in a group, wearing blackface. So let’s go through the steps these people had to take in order to be the absolute worst™.

Who gave these idiots a job

Step one: decide to wear blackface

Your big moment has finally arrived. There’s a nationwide party for the company you work for and, as if asking to be impressed, the powers that be have decided it should be a costume party. Wow, the possibilities are literally endless. ‘Literally’ used correctly, there are literally endless possibilities. And with that knowledge, and all the knowledge you’ve amassed in your multiple decades of being sentient, you have decided to wear blackface.

In this instance, the party theme is ‘Game On’, meaning come dressed as your favourite athlete or sports team. There are so many options for white people. Tom Brady, Larry Bird, Tom Walsh, Eliza McCartney, any ice hockey player, any rower, 90% of New Zealand sportspeople pre-1995.

You consider the options and decide to stick with blackface.

Step two: consult with friends and family then still decide to wear blackface

The first step is to consult your friends. Every genius idea needs to be peer reviewed just in case it’s incredibly racist and offensive, because if it’s a genius idea it’s probably going to offend somebody, or offend everybody. You gather your friends and tell them you’d like to wear blackface and attend the party as the Cameroon Commonwealth Games squad that disappeared in Australia to seek asylum after the games. They all love it. In fact, they want in on the gag. They want to have the funniest costume and couldn’t think of anything funnier than pretending to be black. Register that every one of your friends is white and don’t register anything else.

Step three: buy black paint and afro wigs, get stared at by the cashier, then still decide to wear blackface

Now you need supplies. This isn’t a spontaneous decision that can be executed in mere seconds. You’ll need to visit a costume shop or dollar store, buy a lot of black paint to cover all your friends’ faces (amazing that so many people agreed to this!), and many black afro wigs. Luckily the Cameroon flag’s colours are almost identical to Jamaica’s so you can buy some rasta headbands too. Take all of this to the counter, give the unimpressed cashier a sheepish grin, spend money on this idea, and marvel at how good this blackface is going to be.

Step four: apply blackface make-up, look at yourself in the mirror and then decide to continue wearing blackface

Very carefully paint your face black, making sure not to get any of it on the carpet, and help your friends with theirs. Look at each other, crack up at just how ridiculous you look, maybe even try out a Jamaican accent. You’re dressing up as Cameroon athletes but let’s be honest, you don’t know anything about them. Dale does the best Jamaican accent. Tell him he has to do it for everyone once you get to the party.

Step five: offend everyone

Arrive at the party expecting laughter and cheers. Instead it seems as if some people are…offended? That’s weird, because most of your colleagues are white. Why would they not find this hilarious? You decide to leave but keep the blackface on because, come on, it’s a good joke.

Step six: learn nothing

See yourself in the news and start to wonder if maybe you did a bad thing. Then read all the top comments from people saying “PC gone mad” and “get a sense of humour” and realise you were merely playing to the wrong crowd. These people know you weren’t trying to offend anyone, you just thought it would be funny to pretend to be a black person. Because honestly, what’s funnier than painting your face black, donning an afro wig, chucking on some dollar store beads for good measure, and attending a real estate conference? Nothing. At least nothing you or your friends could think of.

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