Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Blackface

A student of mine was working at a restaurant last night, and in walked several Caucasian high school girls in blackface. My student was shocked, and she asked them about it, and they said they were "dressed up for a game." Turns out they go to school at Dominican, a Catholic all-girls school in town. Another student of mine, who went to Dominican, said that their school colors are black and white, and that on "blackout day" before games many students paint their faces black. I'm amazed by all of this. How could one live in New Orleans and not know about the history of minstrel shows? One of my favorite Mardi Gras parades, Zulu, has the riders also wear blackface. But that is done to lampoon blackface, whereas the Dominican girls seem to be just culturally ignorant.

9 Comments:

Anonymous Editor B said...

Seems to be a lot of that going around.

2:41 PM  
Blogger mominem said...

"Dominican, a Catholic all-girls school in town."

You make it sound like you never heard of it.

Just in case that's true it's right behind Notre Dame Seminary on Walmsley.

I know you know where that is.

2:42 PM  
Blogger Michael Homan said...

Although I'm not from New Orleans, I did know where Dominican was at, largely because I sometimes teach at the Notre Dame seminary. I wrote that for people who are not from New Orleans.

4:03 PM  
Anonymous Editor B said...

Elizabeth R. went to Dominican and was amongst the first substantial group of African-American students to attend there. She told me a pretty funny story this morning about her memories of "blackout day." Apparently it's quite the tradition.

10:11 AM  
Blogger LisaPal said...

Hmmm, as a 1980 Dominican graduate, I don't remember any such tradition and am very grateful that I nothing of the sort existed in my days there. At that time, there were about 30 or so black students in my class of around 200. I was close friends with some of those girls (and still am) and, really, everyone got along well with each other. I can't imagine how something like this might have strained our friendships.

12:29 AM  
Anonymous Puddinhead said...

Only tenuously related to the topic here, but it does have to do with Catholic high school and race relations....it was interesting to me that the Holy Cross student body voted an African-American girl as their homecoming queen a couple of weeks ago. Even more interesting was that neither of my sons (HC students) nor any of their classmates who I spoke with while at the game even seemed to notice that there was anything out of the ordinary about that.

Maybe things WILL be a little better when our generation gets out of the way....

10:39 AM  
Blogger Michael Homan said...

That's great news about HC. Let's hope.

11:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well...plenty of schools paint their school colors on their faces. At Franklin it's orange and green, at other schools, it's varying colors.

I guess Dominican should refrain because of their school colors, but that is truly sad.

What I would agree on is that the kids should keep those face paintings to school events.

4:25 PM  
Blogger Michael Homan said...

I'm not saying they shouldn't paint their faces. How about black and white mixed together?

4:32 PM  

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