MTV’s The Challenge: Battle of The Exes pits pairs of former couples against each other in competition. Emily and Ty are one such couple, and Emily (who is white) thought it would be fun to dress up to imitate Ty (who is black). Of course it wouldn’t have been sufficient to just put on his clothes and talk like him, she had to also smear chocolate sauce all over her face to really drive the message home. Watch the video here.

Emily’s actions were more stupid than the fact that shows like this still even come on, but my takeaway from the incident is one of confusion rather than boredom (I won’t lie to you and act like I’ve watched an MTV Real World-anything in the past ten years but I have to believe its contestants’ behavior means something).

Emily and Ty were in a relationship in the past and this is their third appearance on an MTV competition show together. These are people who definitely know each other. So how could that level of racial misunderstanding be latently present between them? Let’s set aside the fact that folks like Emily are still having a hard time accepting the near-universal offense that blackface causes — she’s a reality show contestant on MTV so we shouldn’t expect much of her when it comes to social consciousness. But shouldn’t this poor child have known that smearing chocolate on your face to imitate a black person is offensive even it’s only offensive to her black ex-boyfriend and partner?

What do you think?

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  • @Jill wrote:

    White people “dont spend our time thinking ‘how can i be racist today and piss a bunch of people off’.”

    If white people spent time — any time — thinking about the racist ideas they have internalized (ideas that I believe people of ALL races have absorbed) then they would be far less likely to say and do racist things that anger and hurt people of color.

    If white people spent time thinking about their UNEARNED, UNEXAMINED racial privilege (white privilege), and therefore, the ways in which the voluntarily and involuntarily BENEFIT from the racial oppression of people of color, then they would be ALLIES to people of color in their struggle against racism — rather than complicits, or collaborators in institutional racism.

    2)Jill wrote: “you dont here us [white people] crying everttime we here cracker or trailer trash or when they make a movie of two black men dressed as white women making fun of us.”

    Yeah — white folks don’t have to cry every time people of color call them racial slurs, or make a movie like “White Chicks” — know why? Precisely because people of color RARELY call white people racial slurs. And there has only been ONE movie like white chicks.

    On the other hand, racial slurs against people of color are HISTORICAL and so widespread in their use that this racist language JUSTIFIED racist institutions like slavery and Jim Crow — that’s why it’s so infuriating and hurtful to African Americans, when whites use the “n-word” and don blackface.

    So many white folks are so clueless about the impact of these words, and ignorant about the U.S.’s racist history, they do what you do — respond to a racist incident like the MTV blackface episode, and think, “Gee, what’s the big deal? Why are ‘they’ so upset!”

    We’re upset because it’s NOT just chocolate sauce — it’s a legacy of racism and racist institutions like slavery and Jim Crow that structures everyone’s lives in the present day U.S. (for example, white people — whether their ancestors owned slaves or not — STILL BENEFIT from the legacy of slavery. The privileges and rights denied to enslaved people set white folks up long ago to succeed, and put black folks behind, literally, for centuries).

    In the present day, blackface still exists in the racist stereotypes that proliferate pop culture — for example, white executives that control the Hip Hop industry flat out refuse to sign hip hop artists whose lyrics raise awareness about oppression/racism. Why? Because that kind of art, they say, wouldn’t interest hip hop’s mostly white consumers. Besides, why market music that critiques and challenges the dominance of the very white power structure in control of the music industry.

    3) Jill wrote: “Grow up its not slave days anymore….we are all EQUAL so stop belittling yourselves and act like we’re equal.”

    Jill, you need to read a book, watch a documentary (Episode 3 of Race: The Power of an Illusion is a GREAT place to start, or Unprecedented: The 2000 Election), take a class, something.

    Because your racial ignorance and racial denial is THE very thing that ensures that institutional racism is here to stay. You can’t fight what you don’t see, Jill.

    Racism is still very much a reality — and it intersects with classism, sexism, heterosexism, ableism, etc., to constrain and entirely eliminate the opportunities of billions of people in the U.S. and worldwide.

    Tim Wise’s short essays (google them) and his book White Like Me are a great resource.

  • When black people some how magically acquire the power to systematically oppress white people — as a group — on an institutional level, THAT’S when white people can start complaining about they perceive as black people’s “racism” against them.

    At present, any person who challenges racism — is accused of being racist, themselves. White anti-racists are accused of being “anti-white.”

    So sickening. And it wouldn’t be so upsetting if white racial denial didn’t have such dire consequences for people of color.

    Case in point:

    Whites are the majority of drug users, drug users — the majority of people that commit crimes, period. But who gets locked up disproportionately for these crimes? Blacks.

    White people are 10 times more likely to possess drugs than blacks and Latinos — but over 90% of police stops and searches are conducted on blacks and Latino’s.

    As a result, black men, women and children comprise the majority of imprisoned people, which has created a crisis in African American communities.

    Too many white people don’t know and don’t want to know the reality, because they benefit from institutional discrimination against people of color. When a person of color is denied an equal education, equal access to jobs, health care — when a black person can get shot & killed simply for being black (because black = “suspicious” or criminal) THAT means great jobs, educational, health care, etc opportunities for whites. That means greater legal rights for whites, the majority of whom can use and deal illegal drugs and NEVER worry about the police bothering them.

    Most crack users are poor and working class whites — but SWAT teams don’t raid homes in white communities. They only do that in black and brown neighborhoods.
    (See Michelle Alexander’s book, New Jim Crow & Tim Wise’s “A Quite Deliberate Failure”)