Despite its racist origins and painful history, blackface keeps showing up on TV in China.
On Thursday night local time, the opening performance of state-run broadcaster CCTV’s Spring Festival Gala featured Chinese men and women smeared in dark makeup, dressed in mismatched costumes meant to evoke “African tribal” attire. Ululations with a brisk drum beat were mixed into the program’s soundtrack.
The show has a history of controversy, and this isn’t the first time its performers have used blackface on stage. In 2018, for a skit that was meant to deliver a heartwarming message about friendly relations between China and African nations, a Chinese actress donned blackface makeup and strapped on an exaggerated prosthetic derriere to play the role of an African woman. She walked onto the stage carrying a fruit basket on her head and was accompanied by an actor—a Black man—wearing a monkey suit.
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