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Al Jolson

Al Jolson wearing his infamous ‘black-and-white minstrel’ make-up. | Source: Hulton Archive / Getty

Late last year, a white author, Cait Corrain, who had landed a lucrative book deal with a major publisher flushed her literary career down the proverbial toilet because her racism and insecurity led her to create a fake account on Goodreads and review bomb competing books by authors of color, particularly Black woman authors. When her identity was discovered and outed by internet sleuths, she tried to cover herself by conjuring up a fake friend to blame the scandal on and even created a fake text thread with said fake friend. Many of us heard of Corrain’s story and thought her actions must have represented the most egregious, racist, ridiculous and whitest things a Caucasian author could do in the literary world within the last couple of years.

Well, that might have changed now that a Canadian-American journalist has announced his book chronicling his experience traveling the U.S. disguised as a Black man in order to give us his take on racism in America. In other words: A white man set out on a mission to prove racism still existsby wearing blackface.

MORE: The History Of Blackface And Native American Halloween Costumes

Meet Sam Forster.

Forster is a Montreal-based journalist who, according to Complex, has described his book Seven Shoulders: Taxonomizing Racism in Modern America as the “most important book on American race relations that has ever been written.”

It was in that context that Forster posted on X, formerly Twitter: “Last summer, I disguised myself as a Black man and traveled throughout the United States to document how racism persists in American society.”

 

Now, it’s entirely possible that Forster is just a troll. He wouldn’t be the first white person to get bored and start gaslighting Black people just for his own amusement, after all. And it does appear that his book of flagrant caucasity is self-published, so it’s not like he was taken seriously by a literary agent or publisher. Still, let’s proceed as if this white man is dead serious about being the Milli Vanilli of Miss Millies and that his white savior complex is so inflated that he truly believes wearing blackface for one summer gave him the necessary insight to write the “most important book on American race relations that has ever been written.”

First of all, this has already been done and it was pretty stupid the first time.

First, in 1961, John Howard Griffin a white man — authored Black Like Me, which recounted his experience wearing blackface and pretending to be Black in the Jim Crow South. Civil rights organizer Stokely Carmichael notably called the literary offering an excellent book—for whites.”

Many decades later, in 2006, Ice Cube produced a reality TV show called Black. White. A Black family was disguised as white and a white family was disguised as Black. There were moments in the show where the Caucasian-disguised Black people found out how white people talk about us when they don’t think we’re in the roomwhich was fairly predictable—but the truly white family didn’t appear to experience as much racism, and if I had to guess why, I’d say it’s because they were still white AF. All the producers really did was put brown makeup on their faces and make their hair kind of, sort of, but not really look like a Black person’s hair. So they still sounded white, were lip-less like white people, and just had a Caucasian aura about themselves that would likely disarm even the white racists who actually believed they were Black. Anyway, it was a dumb experiment then—which is likely why the show only had one season and was virtually forgotten about shortly after it ended—and it still is now that a white man is at the helm.

Needless to say, there are around 40 million Black people in America and multiple generations of Black authors who can tell and have told far more “important” stories about racism than an ignorant white man who had to become the real-life version of Robert Downey Jr.’s character in Tropic Thunder to write his little colonizer’s for civil rights book. So, instead of continuing to pontificate on Forster’s white nonsense, let’s just enjoy watching him get mercilessly dragged across the interwebs over his book and the story behind it.

Some people on social media noted that instead of buying Forster’s book on gentrifying Blackness, folks can simply buy books on the Black experience from actual Black authors.

It’s worth noting that Forster is only the latest white author to enter the literary world of white authors whitesplaining anti-Black racism to a presumably white readership. In 2018, white author Robin DiAngelo published the book White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard For White People to Talk About Racism. DiAngelo literally used a term (white fragility) created by and made popular by Black academics as the theme of her book, which basically served as an education tool for white liberals who wanted to be more engaged in the national discussion on race. Not only did DiAngelo profit from her own privilege by simply recycling the narratives constructed by Black intellectuals but she was getting paid more to speak on racism at events than Black people sharing the same stage.

Of course, DiAngelo didn’t need to wear blackface to accomplish what she did—she understood that her own face provided all the privilege she needed. 

Sometimes I really hate it here.

SEE ALSO:

‘Minstrel Show’: Cosmetics Company Youthforia Accused Of Blackface Makeup For Dark-Skinned People

Oklahoma Pastor Ousted From Church Organization For Wearing Blackface And Impersonating ‘Indian’

White Journalist Gets Dragged For Disguising Himself As A Black Man For Book About Racism  was originally published on newsone.com