Canadian ‘Black Face Tribute’ Reminiscent of Jim Crow

During an Olympic themed event at Montreal University last week, business students decided to “honor” Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt by spreading black paint on their faces and bodies, wearing Rastafarian hats, monkey printed boxers and carrying a stuffed monkey. At the event, the students were filmed yelling “Ya Mon!” and “Smoke more weed!” in mock Jamaican accents. Anthony Morgan, a 25-year-old law student, filmed the event, which was broadcast over television stations. Morgan filed a complaint with the Quebec Human Rights Commission.

A spokesman for the business school, Michael Lartigau, told the Toronto Star that, “They interpreted the theme poorly.” That is a close to a formal apology as school officials have come.

“Haha! I can wear my rasta hat!” “Yea, and I got some monkey boxers-let’s carry my giant stuffed monkey too!”

I can hear their brainstorm now. “Yea and let’s wear black paint!” This is disrespectful and racist. Those students should have known better.

“Black face,” which is the idea of wearing black paint and acting coon-ish, has been done. White actors would smear black paint or coal on their faces and bodies-while acting foolishly and speaking broken English. In those minstrel shows, blacks were mocked. People ate their dinners while laughing at the “silly Negroes” they saw on TV.

This was a modern day minstrel show.

Maybe they did this because as a race, we rarely stand together. We’re more likely to laugh along than pull “the race card.” We care more about being accepted, rather than being respected.

If the theme was “Hail Hitler” and someone wore a gold star and chanted Jewish hymns – well, no one would laugh.

But I’m sure this will blow over. These students will go on to run their businesses. You just don’t want to be the black person who will have to ask them for a job.