“Yes, it is a double standard, and rightly so. Why? Very simply, because of slavery, because of Jim Crow, because of segregation. Because blackface was created to mock a group of people who had no power, and to further stereotype them as animals, as monkeys, and as less than human. Blackface was used as a way for white people to get jobs by performing as offensive representations of black people. Real black people never got the jobs. They just hired white people to do it in blackface. What Nick Cannon did may be obnoxious or silly or immature or gimmicky, however, it is not racist… Not one white person will be mocked for it, or will lose out on a job, because Nick Cannon is playing a white person in his Instagram video. If you don’t understand that, you’re a moron.”
— Don Lemon on the Tom Joyner Show this morning
In case you haven’t heard anything about this little controversy — and why would you since it involves Nick Cannon — a lot of people are pitching a fit because Cannon dressed in whiteface as a stereotypical “white” character he cleverly dubbed “Connor Smallnut.” The character looks a little like a hipster and talks, of course, like a surfer dude. Because as you know that’s how all white people talk. The whole thing is being done to promote Cannon’s new album most of you won’t give a shit about, “White People Party Music.”
Lemon’s right about this. While Cannon’s stunt is ridiculously dumb, it’s not racist. Technically racism can be discriminating against someone or calling attention to his or her characteristics based solely on race, but the more accepted connotation involves the person doing the stereotyping being in a position of cultural authority. Sure it’s possible for black people to be racist against whites, but it simply doesn’t have the oppressive cultural impact the opposite dynamic does.
There’s nothing the least bit threatening about what Nick Cannon is doing with his silly white guy character, particularly since Nick Cannon is the one doing it and how often during the average day do you concern yourself with anything Nick Cannon does? I mean, it’s not like it’s somebody important. It’s basically the guy who pulls Mariah Carey’s car around for her in the morning.