Social media users are accusing a 20-year-old woman of wearing blackface after her skin color altered due to years of self-tanning. Savannah Grace, according to the New York Post, has been using tanning beds for more than two years and utilizes artificial tan before going to bed.
“I love tanning and being outside; I tan after workouts, before bed, in the mornings, I love the way I look when I tan,” she told NeedToKnow.co.uk.
Though the nursing assistant has been sharing photos of herself on social media, the reactions have been mixed, as some users have asked her to stop self-tanning. “I try not to read comments as much as possible,” she said.
However, the 20-year-old was compelled to disable comments on one of her viral TikTok posts after receiving a barrage of comments accusing her of donning blackface. “Not black face … with not an ounce of remorse or even an attempt to understand how wrong she is?? Throw the whole human out,” a user wrote.
“For you not to delete the video after being called out for blackface is kinda wild,” another user commented. “Girl you are Dorito colored,” a different user also added.
Savannah, however, said she’s not deterred by the backlash. “There have been many negative comments, but I do what makes me happy either way,” she said.
The History of Black Face
According to a BET article on the issue, blackface evolved from minstrel shows in the 1830s. White actors darkened their faces with shoe polish or greasepaint, painted exaggerated red lips with makeup, and played stereotypically dumb, foolish, or dangerous Black characters, such as the “happy darky on the plantation” or the “dandified coon.” The overarching goal of these concerts was to amuse white slave owners, who were amused by acts insulting slaves and free Blacks during the nineteenth century.
Among the ‘pioneers’ of the minstrel show was Thomas “Daddy” Rice, a white actor who darkened his face and danced a jig in 1830 for his role Jim Crow.
From the small stage, blackface made its way to the big screen where some performers like Bert Williams, Al Jolson, Freeman Gosden, and Charles Correll, who created “Amos N’ Andy” made it widely popular. These white men also performed in “dialect” or “African American English.”
Minstrelsy was at its peak between 1830 and 1890, and when black artists were finally allowed to perform publicly in the late nineteenth century, they were required to wear blackface (regardless of skin color) and reenact stereotypes of the time; nevertheless, some discovered ways to disrupt this.
Only during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s did blackface become unpopular. However, by that time, it had spread over the world, particularly in many Asian and European countries where actors still put on the mask to perform.
Wearing blackface in the United States today is almost heresy. It has been heavily criticized since it harkens back to a terrible past of slavery, segregation – Jim Crow – and discrimination against Black people, creating false assumptions about Black people.