First thing’s first: Antoine Griezmann isn’t being “accused” of racism. He is racist. Doing Blackface is an historically recognised form of racism. It isn’t respectful, nor is it funny. Punching down isn’t good comedy.
Atletico Madrid player Antoine Griezmann has caused outrage on social media after posting a photograph of himself in Blackface as part of a fancy dress costume imitating an NBA basketball player.
The footballer posted the photo on his Twitter account, with the caption “80s Party” with a basketball emoji and a laughing emoji. He has since deleted it.
After a slew of criticism from Twitter users, Griezmann tried to defend his racist actions, saying: “Calm down guys, I’m fan of the Harlem globetrotters and the good times… it’s a tribute.”
Griezmann plays for France full of black players so I dunno what the fuck he’s doing.. trash guy
— sanka (@Martian_MUFC) December 17, 2017
I'm already stressed out about Griezmann's inevitable apology saying "a lot of my best friends are black." pic.twitter.com/0UtS3Yb7Yv
— Miriti Murungi (@NutmegRadio) December 17, 2017
This is what happens when people don’t learn their history. Blackface gained popularity among white audiences in the 19th Century, where white actors would darken their skin and imitate Black people, usually playing the role of a “happy” slave. Blackface was a racist art form used to promote anti-Blackness and the idea that Black people were naturally slaves.
This and a range of other violent stereotypes were perpetuated through Blackface, whose practice mostly ended after the Civil Rights Movement, though it was still used in “comedy” art forms (such as the relatively recent film Tropic Thunder), and continues to be used throughout Europe as national celebrations, e.g. Black Pete.
There are so, so many different options for an 80’s party, or a night out at the darts for that matter, that don’t involve blackface. I can’t believe we’re out here in 2017 saying don’t dress up in blackface. https://t.co/TzqsVdSOeg
— David Lammy (@DavidLammy) December 17, 2017
Being racist isn’t about your intentions or beliefs, just like being a murderer isn’t about whether you want to murder someone. It’s about what you do that matters. And Griezmann did something racist. Until he apologises and demonstrates a full understanding of what he did, and a willingness to do a lot better, he will remain a racist.
But knowing this history; knowing how Blackface originated as an explicitly racist parody of Black people for the sheer entertainment of white people — why do it in the first place? Why would you want to do it? Black folks’ humanity isn’t up for debate, but Griezmann’s decision to do Blackface and everyone defending him like it’s “no big deal” seem to think it is.
Learn your history, then fix your harmful behaviours. It isn’t hard to not do Blackface.