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Blacking Up is a hobby that was started by the British during the colonial period for making fun of foreigners and ethnic sorts. It has since been taken up by many western and European countries. Its popularity has grown in woodland areas or within one's own household; particularly of working class people where the metaphorical line in the sand of wealth does not protect against exposure to black people.
In public, outside of licensed events it is less acceptable to practice Blacking Up, and many feel restricted the same way transsexuals did in the early 20th century. It has had something of a renaissance lately with high profile films such as Tropic Thunder (2008) which featured Robert Downey, Jr. 'Blacking Up' for his role in the film.
The older form of Blacking Up was called Blackface and it was prevalent in the early part of the last century. This practice was along similar lines to Blacking Up, however the aim was essentially derogatory towards Black races, whereas modern Blacking Up is complimentary and based around imitation rather than coarser exaggeration, or at least that's the aim. Blacking Up as a pastime started in the 1990s when political correctness effectively prevented well educated middle class citizens from buying Golliwogs and sneering at "Blacks". This was also compounded by a surge in Daily Mail sales.
To combat this, the government passed a resolution on racial affairs which would allow white people to Black Up during a bogus pastime called "paint-balling" - an entirely fictitious version of laser quest aimed at the Stag do/Weekend Dad market. Overall only the darkest skin types are emulated in the practice today, as lighter shades look a little bit too much like the terrorist races who have gone out of fashion in recent years.
Usually this involves some form of pigmentation, though there are other methods such as fecal matter or excessive sunbed use. The look can vary as sometimes it is obvious that the features don't match up, and for a skilled enthusiast it involves long and often arduous periods of observation and mimicry. However the most die-hard followers have learned to love being Black, and their ability to 'Black Up' is far superior to mere imitation according to the Blacking Up Council. Lenny Henry, the leader of the Council in the Britain, said in a 2001 BBC interview,
|The rise of Blacking Up is amazing to see, with so many listening to traditionally Black music and spending that extra ten minutes on a sun bed to get that realistic look on a discreet weekend 'Black Up' with like-minded friends. Blacking Up is the new nudism in Britain today|
Often, the look is not even required: many insecure teenage males pretend to be Black so as to find a social acceptance in a world where white is no longer cool - in fact "white cool" has become the white bread of healthy coolness. Going to Black support groups is also easier to justify to their parents, teachers or drug dealers. Of course this act Black/look white way is considered tame by pure-breed Black Up specialists, and they are usually considered outside the "professional league".
The most challenging part is emulating the sense of rhythm which is wholly absent from white people, and also the ability to carry off being black. Notable 'Black Up' specialists tend to be Americans who, due to high quantities of meat from their most common employment as meat packers, find themselves able to easily carry off the 'primordial black physique'.
edit Competitive Blacking Up
Every year in Austria a competition takes place where people from all around the globe Black Up and are judged by well-known Black Up 'artists' such as Lawrence Fishbourne, Marshall Mathers and Chiwetel Ejiofor, who judge impressions and lived-in acts such as themselves.
Usually skills such as voice, posture and personality are all rated. Conformation is also a major factor, a term which means that should a person for example be a 'Skinny White Guy', how closely does his body match a comparative 'Skinny Black Dude' and how much his or her aura is Black as opposed to Caucasian.
Other surprising disciplines include the "chip on your shoulder" factor. Assessment is based on how quickly a Black Up case can create a fuss over a minor misunderstanding or innocuous quip, such as "you've got really white teeth" or something of a similar nature. The highest scored are the entrants who, faced with the most minor insults, go to pieces and threaten a media storm, or who use their Black Up skills to successfully get jobs they are unqualified for.
edit The 'coloured community's' response
Although technically offended, many Black people film these "Milky Bar Wannabes" for personal amusement, often well concealed in bushes - particularly at night. A negro may have himself quite a chuckle at whites who have 'Blacked Up' and are imitating their heroes, or are just generally attempting poor imitations of the street talk the Black community is famed for.
Often, these attempts by Caucasians are viewed with the same gentle mockery by Black people as whites bestow upon a well-educated Black person who has mannerisms he has learned from being surrounded by whites - much like a chimp in costume. The MOBO awards are planning on making sure that all guests are Blacked Up, so as to maintain the impression that only genuine Blacks gain entry. The current chairman of the MOBO awards, Snoop Dogg said in 2004,
|Blackness for the Blacks is what we would say if we were white, but we're too fucking stoned man to really give a shit about you crazy 'Milky Bar Kids'. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I guess!|
For some reason, outside of Michael Jackson, no Black person seems to have any desire to be white, and there is no equivalent "White Up" culture as yet. It's thought this will change when enough Black people have employment to purchase the necessary make up. In Germany there is comparable practice amongst Black people. In order to get around many part of East Berlin, Black people will 'white up' - this is not a hobby or a sincere lifestyle choice, but an effective camouflage from psychotic Neo-Nazis.
- ↑ Shockingly, Caucasians sometimes mate with Blacks, and mixed race communities have sprung up throughout the West.
- ↑ Drug dealers are always black.
- ↑ Particularly the British.
- ↑ A slang term for those who have chosen to permanently Black Up for the rest of their natural lives.
- ↑ Or Samuel L. Jackson, you really can't tell which.