The Irony of Blacks in Minstrel Shows

Minstrel shows were the start of the American Musical. These shows (that were started by White American men) peaked after the Civil War, which was a time in history where Blacks were subjected to Jim Crow policies and race-based hatred. White men would paint their faces with burnt cork and play on the stereotypes of Blackness. Blacks were in Minstrel shows as well. The irony is that to the Whites,  the Blacks were not Black enough for the Minstrel show. They too were required to wear blackface and play up on the stereotypes of Blackness. Audiences of all colors seemed to enjoy the shows that were deeply entrenched in racism and bigotry. In these shows Whites and Blacks alike would act out the nightmares of slave life and the trauma that often comes with being black in America. Other time Black felt that the skits were true representations of Black people. Many Blacks during the time did not believe the shows were harmful. It was a space where Blacks and White would come together and perform, even though what they were performing was routed in racism.




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