Why white actors have historically worn Blackface — not the other way around

The new book “Blackface” dives into the history and cultural context of the practice. Photo courtesy of Bloomsbury.

When Shakespeare scholar Ayanna Thompson’s son was in third grade, his class worked on a year-long project about an influential historical figure, and they dressed up as those figures at the end of the year. Thompson was astonished that several of the white children dressed up as Black heroes and were in Blackface. The 2012 incident sent Thompson on a journey to explain why Blackface has never been acceptable. Her new book “Blackface” dives into the history and cultural context of the practice. 

Credits

Guest:

  • Ayanna Thompson - author of “Blackface,” director of the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at Arizona State University