Blackface incident seen by some as an opportunity to ‘do better’

Nov 3, 2022, 9:07 PM | Updated: Nov 4, 2022, 10:51 am

CEDAR CITY, Utah — A viral video of some Iron County teens in blackface is leading to a call for better understanding and for some difficult conversations to be had here in Utah.

Here’s why some say it’s a chance for all of us to do better.

You know at times like these people tend to get angry, some that it happened, others that people like us are talking about it.

News Specialist Mike Anderson met with the Vice President for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at Weber State University, Adrienne Gillespie Andrews. She says it should be a chance to build each other up.

Chances are you’ve already seen this video. And if you read the comments online, it’s not hard to find people who say we should pretend it never happened.

“This isn’t something that we’re learning this time around. This is something that we’ve known for decades,” Andrews said.

Andrews says it’s easy to dismiss if you’re not the person being caricatured.

“And you know they are kids and their intent may be to be funny, but the reality is the impact is not funny. The impact is dehumanizing and harmful and hurtful,” Andrews said.

She said we should have those difficult conversations with our friends, our family, and in our schools.

Utah has its own long and painful history with blackface.

“There used to be the ‘Coon Inn Restaurant’ in Utah, which was a blackface restaurant that you walked into the individual’s mouth,” Andrews said.

There were also plenty of shows with blackface up until at least the 1970s.

“If we don’t take the opportunity to educate, we’re going to stay in that place of ignorance,” Andrews said.

Tekulve Jackson-Vann is a founding member of Black Clinicians of Utah and said people in Iron County, where this happened, need to take a leadership role in doing better.

“And that leadership doesn’t need to come from the NAACP or anything like that,” Jackson-Vann said. “I think it’s time for those who have called themselves allies, to really like step up and take the lead on this.”

And when it comes to those who make mistakes, “It’s always the appropriate time to say, ‘I’m sorry,'” Andrews said.

Andrews said we don’t need to ruin their lives.

“And we get to learn from and with each other, as long as we’re willing to do that, it can get better for all of us,” Andrews said.

Andrews also advises that we should call people in instead of calling them out by calmly explaining “Hey, you may not realize this, but what you’re doing may be offensive,” rather than taking the aggressive approach.

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Blackface incident seen by some as an opportunity to ‘do better’