On July 30th G-Dragon posted a picture to his Instagram account that has proven to be very controversial. That would be this pic here, in which he's got a face full of black paint:
It's taken awhile for me to write this post because I was pretty conflicted about it, and here's why: I think G-Dragon is the best thing since sliced bread. I love his fashion, quite a bit of his music and I love his irreverence and willingness to be different and just plain out there and odd.
Oh and by the way, I'm Black.
"What does that have to do with anything?", I hear you asking. Well, GD managed to offend a ton of of black people in one fell swoop with this image, and it all has to do with blackface.
The outcry started right away on the 30th when the pic was posted and people started leaving comments on the pic in question. Many people were shocked and appalled (like me) while many others thought it was no big deal.
I didn't want to rant about this issue and come off sounding all aggrieved but dammit, I need to and I feel as if I would be remiss if I didn't. So many people aren't getting why some people of color are disappointed in G-Dragon, and many netizens have taken to calling us out on reverse racism or being overly sensitive. Obviously they don't get it, so I'm going to explain.
"Oh, but Jiyong was wearing a mud mask!" is what I heard from tons of people that day and the next. Was he or wasn't he?
"It's no big deal! He doesn't know what he's doing and he didn't mean it anyway!" I beg to differ. Korea might not be on the forefront of Black History education but there is such thing as the internet and everyone knows how to use Google. Plus I'm quite sure someone he knows personally has said something to him about blackface and cultural appropriation at some point since Big Bang's debut. I mean hey, I'm pretty sure he reads at least some of his tweets. I know for a fact that he got many tweets about cultural appropriation, especially after the "One of a Kind" mv was released.
|I rolled my eyes when this happened, but that's about it.|
|G-Dragon wore a 'fro in his "MichiGO" mv. Meh.|
To all the people who don't get or don't care to get why Kpop fans of color are so up in arms about this picture, here's some info about blackface:
Blackface was invented by minstrel performers in the nineteenth century, and soon became the trademark of the artform. Minstrel shows were a form of entertainment that was devoted to re-packaging blackness in a way that was sufficiently degrading enough to be palatable to white audiences. It's about taking the richness of black art, music, dancing, and humor — turning it into a degrading stereotype, and then disseminating this bastardized vision of a people as far and wide as possible. Minstrelsy wasn’t just about exploiting racism, minstrel performers were on the front lines of white supremacy, they established an image in the mind of white America of who black people were — simple fools, mindless entertainers, creatures ruled by instinct and lower brain function, not by art, not by ideas, not by ideals of honor or duty.cr: considertheteacosy via anedumacation
Blackface is about stereotyping and making a caricature of black people. Like that quote says, it's degrading and just plain wrong. That's why we're angry or disappointed. It doesn't matter what his reasoning behind it was, it's just not cool and should be taken down.
You say you like Black people and Black culture and you just want to pay homage to it? Well this isn't the way to do it... not if you're trying your hardest to become a "World Star" anyway.
Here's the thing... GD and Big Bang have been appropriating Black culture for years and I've never had a problem with it. I don't really care if you like hip hop or you use the terms "swag" and "dope" and you wear dreds or braids or cornrows or an afro or bandanna print everything (most of it looks dumb, but whatever). I don't even care if you dress up like Crips and/or Bloods during your performances. Use a pimp cane, wear every single piece of fashionable urban wear you want. Do you, my friend. I. Don't. Care. I only start to have a problem when you start using the word "nigga" or going the extra mile by willfully using blackface.
|G-Dragon wore cornrows for "One of a Kind" and I didn't give a damn.|
"Oh, well GD has Black friends and Big Bang's band was Black and he's got more swag than all of them put together!" you say? So what... it's still not cool and that doesn't make it ok.
Here's my major issue with it: That pic is still up. Most public figures would have the good sense to take down an image that so many people all over the world found offensive, whether it was meant to be or not. I fully expected that GD would have taken it down by now, but I guess not. That takes balls, people. It's not all that smart, but it takes cast iron cojones. It's one thing to not realize something is wrong, it's another to realize it's wrong but not care.
It seems that G-Dragon read at least a few of the comments for the pic that same day because he reportedly posted back saying it was a mud mask. Now YG Entertainment is saying that it's face paint for his album cover shoots. Which is it, guys? Make up your mind. If it was a photoshoot, why not just say so in the first place? Explain your thought process and you probably would have nipped all this in the bud right away.
I notice how YG had nothing to say about this until they got put on blast by major American sites like SPIN Magazine, the L.A. Times and even The Guardian UK for doing it as poorly planned homage to Trayvon Martin.
|That's what I said when I read that.|
Apparently there's thought that all this has some sort of connection with the "I Am Trayvon Martin" meme that some hip hop artists were doing as a tribute to Trayvon in 2012. No? Then, some people are saying he was cosplaying some dude from the X-Men (I'm a nerd but not a comic book nerd, sorry). I don't know, I wasn't there. All I know is that it bothers me.
It also bothers me that neither Jiyong nor YG had anything to say to the actual fans that had issues with all of this.
What kills me is that there have been so many instances of actual legit blackface perpetrated in the Kpop world, including this one by GD which I hadn't known about before today:
The full shebang:
Seungri and Daesung have even gotten in on that blackface action:
Ok fine, you say this happened years ago and they didn't know any better then? Well then they should definitely know better by now.
If you still don't get why all this offends me, go read the rest of this essay on racism and blackface and then read this open letter from by Omona They Didn't about Blackface in Kpop. Take a look at some of the pics and compare them to GD's. Now you know why it's fucked up and why it needs to stop. And to the 107,000 and counting "Oppa didn't mean it!"s that liked the pic on Instagram, well you know what you can do with that like.
But hey, at least he got a ton of press for his new album out of it right? If that was GD & YG's sole objective with all this brouhaha in the first place then that is just plain sad.
What do you think about this G-Dragon blackface controversy? Weigh in below, and don't be shy. I'm curious to know your real thoughts.
Source: xxxibgdrgn, omonatheydidn't 1 & 2.