To the Editors:

In making his argument (in the column “Dressing to look homeless is distasteful, not humorous,” November 7, 2014), the writer used an egregious false equivalence comparing the “homeless-chic” style of dressing to blackface. This comparison to blackface is superficial and careless as it erases the function of blackface as a system of oppression. 

Blackface never was just about the imitation of black people or an attempt at being ironic. At its core, blackface is about the dehumanization of black people in order to justify the existence of racism in our society. 

It perpetuated ugly myths of black people as dangerous, simple, violent and overly sexual creatures that are humorous in their “attempts” at humanity. It was historically done to humiliate and mock black people, to show that they were unworthy of anything like compassion, understanding, respect or basic human rights. 

These myths still last today in more watered down versions in discussions ranging from the hyper-sexualization of the black body to the inherent criminality of black men.

This more intensive understanding of blackface is often lost in mainstream conversations and is part of the reason why people ranging from your average Joe Schmo to celebrities like Julianne Hough still ignorantly use blackface. The comparison used whitewashes and oversimplifies this history, ultimately serving as a disservice to both the topic he was writing on and the issue of blackface.

Alex Mathieu ’15