form of theatrical make-up used predominantly by non-black performers to represent a caricature of a black person

Blackface is a kind of costume or make up. Non-Black performers wear blackface so that they can represent racist images of a Black or Afrcan American person. Blackface became popular in the 19th century especially during Reconstruction after the American Civil War. It made racist stereotypes like the happy-go-lucky darky on a plantation more common.

By the mid 19th century, blackface minstrel shows became a distinctive artform. It translated formal works, like opera, into popular terms for general audiences.[1]

Early in the 20th century, blackface came off the minstrel show. It became a form in its own right.[2]

However, in the United States, blackface became less popular after the civil right movement. It is offensive and racist.[3]

The videos for the Culture Club "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me" and Taco's "Puttin' On the Ritz" are videos in which actors in blackface appeared during the early 1980s.[4] The original video for "Puttin' On the Ritz" (1983) was not allowed due to the characters in blackface in that video.


  1. Behind the Burnt Cork Mask. Google. Retrieved September 19, 2019.
  2. History of the Minstrel Show. Google. Retrieved September 19, 2019.
  3. "Don't Get What's Wrong with the Blackface?". Vox. Retrieved September 19, 2019.
  4. I Want My MTV. Google. Retrieved September 19, 2019.