Justice

White Beauty Blogger Gets Dragged for Starting the 'Chocolate Challenge'

July 14th 2017

By:
Almie Rose

It's 2017, and we're still telling people not to wear blackface.

Whether it was unintentional or purposefully hateful, blackface hasn't gone away. And, now, one beauty blogger is learning why blackface isn't something anyone should do.

She called it "The Chocolate Challenge."

Vika Shapel, in a now-deleted YouTube video and Instagram post, darkened half of her white face — and added a brown color eye contact — in what she called "The Chocolate Challenge." Tweets quickly emerged before the image was deleted, with Twitter users expressing their outrage and disgust.

"Something fun is coming to YouTube, idk if there is a challenge like this but we haven’t seen it so Im calling it the chocolate challenge!" Shapel captioned the photo.

In an interview with Yahoo! Beauty, Shapel explained what she was thinking when she came up with the beauty "challenge."

On July 10, she told Yahoo! Beauty, "I simply wanted to see how I looked in a deeper skin tone." Then she dropped this:

I wasn’t aware of the whole black-face concept before people began commenting it on the photo.

She went on to offer an apology: "I would like to apologize to people that were hurt or offended by my post, and it won’t happen again."

This isn't even the first time a beauty blogger has intentionally darkened white skin for the sake of a beauty experiment.

Danielle DeCourcey wrote for ATTN: on May 30 about blogger "@paintdatface" who faced backlash for painting a white model's face in a dark skin tone.

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Before taking the post down, they wrote, "this is a transformation that I've been holding back from releasing for a while now, solely because of the fear I've had of people turning this into a racial scandal against me."

(Spoiler alert: It did.)

When a person on Twitter asked someone to "articulate exactly why this is wrong," Twitter user @NalediMashishi stepped up and nailed it:

As DeCourcey wrote, "even when the intent of blackface is not meant to mock or parody black people, it can be controversial."

Which is why it should be avoided, even when the intentions behind it aren't malicious. Because there's a very real and very painful history of how black people with dark skin were treated by white people throughout society up until this day.

Blackface began in America in the 19th century, and was known as "minstrel acts," NPR explains. It was common for white men to darken their faces (sometimes with shoe polish) and exaggerate their facial features to look like cartoonish depictions of black men.

As NPR reports:

"Years before the name became synonymous with racial segregation laws, Jim Crow was a showbiz act — a performance first made famous in New York City by a young white actor named Thomas D. Rice.

Some time around 1830, Rice learned a popular African-American song-and-dance routine, based on the myth of the trickster figure, an escaped slave named Jim Crow. His face blacked out with burnt cork, Rice perfected the act and sparked the tradition of the minstrel act.

The audience for these shows was largely working-class whites, and at first the blackface character was actually a smart and sympathetic one. But as time went on, the minstrel show took on a more racist tone."

Thomas d rice dancing

Though what beauty bloggers are doing today isn't the same as what Rice did, it still doesn't make it acceptable, given how black people are hurt by a system designed to oppress them. For example, there's racial profiling, wherein a person is judged based on their race.

"African-American/Black drivers are twice as likely (4.5 percent vs. 2.1 percent) to be arrested during a traffic stop," according to the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. Furthermore, as Vanity Fair reported in 2016 on police and racial bias, "the probability of being black, unarmed, and shot by police is about 3.49 times the probability of being white, unarmed, and shot by police on average."

So considering these statistics and the realities black people face in America, it makes it especially difficult for something like "The Chocolate Challenge" to be taken as anything less than offensive.