Why the Americans painted face in black

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What is blackface, as a mockery revealed to the world Negro culture, and why even black makeup under black?

Blackface — dark makeup, imitating the Negro appearance. Its history is connected with the appearance in the USA in the mid-nineteenth century minstrel show, where white actors portrayed the comic scenes from the life of black slaves, always lazy and stupid. Despite the racist stereotypes these shows, they were hardly the first bridge to span between two cultures: through artless submission to the lives of American citizens entered the spiritual songs of the slaves (spirituals), tap, jargon and, more importantly, the image of the suffering because of the injustice of man.

Researcher Eric Lott writes that, paradoxically, an imitation of black culture, despite its blatant racism, led to the assimilation and understanding of the problems and needs of slaves and the images which came from the traveling theaters, was later used by the fighters for the abolition of slavery. But a hundred years the enduring popularity of the minstrel show is also the fate of hundreds of thousands of people, the history that brought American theater history, which reflects the war between the North and the South, the laws of segregation, political censorship and a dizzying career. Echoes of the minstrel show is heard still in Broadway musicals, stand up, dance, animation, sitcom, and music.

George Washington Dixon (1801-1861)

It is unknown who was the first to combine dark makeup with specific vocabulary, gestures, and manner of singing, referring the audience to “just a passerby, a dark-skinned guy”. George Dixon was the first artist who built a career on this role. His success in 1830-40-ies as the common people and a secular public is an amazing phenomenon: after a few decades, when blackface become independent low genre played in saloons and taverns, it will be hard to believe.

From the inception to the end the basis for a minstrel show was a play on words, absurdity, dancing, rough physical humor and songs. However, Dixon is first and foremost an outstanding singer whose name is associated with the song “Zip Coon”

and the same room, making fun of “free Negroes” of the American North — dandy and Bons vivants. Their desire and at the same time failing to enter the higher society began to Dixon and his followers the source of countless jokes. The special comic effect was achieved by describing what happens to a country when the President will be Zip Coon the same. The word soon later became synonymous with racial caricatures in principle. Illustrated in the American press of the nineteenth century minded “coons” became a victim of progress (they were killed by a current, crushing the train, poisoned gas lamps) and nature (they became bait for crocodiles). However, one theory States that himself, George Dixon, being a mulatto, only disguised with burnt cork and suffered from racist attacks.

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Thomas Dartmouth Rice (1808-1860)

Jim crow, stage alter ego of Thomas rice, the most important character in the history of blackface representing most of the black slaves of the South (Arzamas wrote about it in the article “the Prehistory of pop”). Rice came up with Crowe, giving his features a random passer-by, tramps. Jim is a servant, not amenable to training, disheveled, impoverished, but not losing the innate optimism. The value of this image is large: adopted 30 years after the death of rice’s laws on racial segregation was the unofficial name of “Jim crow”.

Success rice and his character were so great that he was among the first minstrels, who visited with performances in London, and also played in several productions with local theaters the skill of the image of black people came in “Othello”. The newspaper the Boston Post called Jim crow one of the two most famous people in the world (in the first place was Queen Victoria). Rice’s career ruined progressive paralysis, which first appeared in the early 1840s and by the end of the decade, much on the movements and speech of the artist. Strong accumulation (in the best of times rice sported a coat with Golden guineas instead of buttons) was gradually drunken, and the money for the funeral “Jim crow” was collected from the concerned public.

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