John Jennings on Will.i.am's Blackface
At the MTV VMA’s this past weekend, Will.i.am caused controversy with his appearance in blackface.
Recently, Newsone contributor Bakari Kitwana spoke with Associate Professor of Visual Studies at the State University of Buffalo, John Jennings, about recent visual images of Blacks on the American popular culture scene—from Will.i.am’s Blackface to the signage at the recent 9/12 Tea Party Rally in Washington, DC. Jennings offers a crash course in media literacy, and stereotypes that he says continue to reproduce themselves in American culture.
He likens the Tea Party signs to previous eras where American racists target Jews, Irish, etc and says of blackface: “Because of the deep history of minstrelsy throughout history, I don’t think you can take it out of the history of racialization.” Such stereotypes, he says, “are like logos.”
Curator, Illustrator, Cartoonist and Graphic Novelist, John Jennings is Associate Professor of Visual Studies at the State University of New York Buffalo and the author of the new book Black Comix: African-American Independent Comics, Art and Culture, which he co-wrote with Damian Duffy. He teaches graphic art and design and his research focuses on challenging African-American stereotypes in the media and popular culture.