One-third of Americans OK with blackface on Halloween



In the 1930s, Jewish singer Al Jolson was known as ‘the king of blackface.’

More than one-third of Americans are OK with wearing blackface as part of a Halloween costume, according to a recently conducted poll from the Pew Research Center.

On the heels of Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s recently surfaced medical school yearbook photos that allegedly show him wearing blackface and his public admission of wearing blackface at least once, 34 percent of Americans said that it was “always acceptable” (15 percent) or sometimes acceptable (19 percent) to use a substance to darken one’s skin in order to pantomime, parody or ridicule someone of African descent.

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring also admitted to having previously worn blackface. Both Northam and Herring have said they have no plans to resign from their posts.

Political divide

The poll found that the divide between political parties on the issue is stark. About 75 percent of Republicans said that it was always or sometimes acceptable compared to 21 percent of Democrats.

Overall, the poll found, 39 percent of white people said blackface was fine. Some 18 percent of African-Americans and 28 percent of Latino agreed. However, 53 percent of African-Americans questioned said it was never acceptable to don blackface. A similar divide on the issue exists between those aged 18 to 29 and those over 30.

In January, NBC and former Fox News host Megyn Kelly reached a settlement to hasten Kelly’s departure from the network that was spurred by her on-air comments regarding her opinion that blackface was acceptable for Halloween costumes.

The poll found similar results for people thinking it was acceptable to wear the traditional dress of another culture, an act referred to as “cultural appropriation.”

The margin of error for the full sample of 6,637 respondents is plus or minus 1.7 percentage points.



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