Hey Hey It's Blackface

As you may have heard, Harry Connick, Jr. recently appeared on the reunion show of a popular 1980's Australian television show, Hey Hey It's Saturday, which included an amateur talent competition. One of the acts was a group of white men who performed as the Jackson Five (even though there are six of them) in blackface.

Connick, who was judging the competition, was rightly appalled, and awarded them a 0. Later in the show, the host apologized to Connick, who said if he'd known that was going to be a part of the show, he wouldn't have done it.

Renee from Womanist Musings, whose post on the topic is here, and I were emailing about it yesterday (which I am posting with her permission):

Renee: It was beyond a fail. To say I was gobsmacked would be the understatement of year.

Liss: My first reaction was to the audience's reaction to it—and then the show's defense of it. "Oh, yeah, we understand it's problematic in America but it's TOTALLY COOL IN AUSTRALIA!" What the hell? It looks to me that in the audience shot at 3:09, there's not a single POC in the crowd, which is just...wow. And the fact that these guys are doctors?! Good lord. No one thinks it's problematic that doctors, who, presumably have POC among their patients, are virulent racists?! Honestly, I just could *not* believe what I was seeing.

Renee: It is disturbing to see that ppl are defending this or only apologizing for offending Harry. Of course the Black people that they offended don't deserve an apology.

Liss: In good news, I'm getting *lots* of emails about this, and not just from people of color, and not just from Americans. It's sad that outrage is comforting, but it is.

Renee: Outrage gives you hope. When I just want to pack my bags and say I am done someone inevitably gives me hope by showing that they get it and it takes the sting out of the pain. Like you said, Liss, teaspoons go a long way.


If our Aussie readers have suggestions for where best to aim our teaspoons, particularly in support of Black Australians, please let us know in comments.

Finally, Bluemilk's comprehensive post on this, titled "Hey Hey It's Offensive in Australia, Too" is also a must-read on this subject.

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