What Happened When a Black Woman Called out Her Friend for Blackface Publicly

February 22nd 2016

Taylor Bell

Blackface is never OK. So when an Australia basketball player called out her teammate for wearing the racist makeup, you would think the result was an around of applause. Instead, the internet harshly rebuked her, BuzzFeed reports.

This weekend professional basketball player Elizabeth Cambage posted a series a tweets expressing her shock and disgust with teammate Alice Kunek's decision to wear the racist makeup as part of her Kanye West costume.

Although a number of people shared Cambage's sentiments, others did not appreciate her sense of indignation. Most argued that Cambage's outrage was an overreaction and that she needed to "grow up."

Cambage even posted a round-up of her favorite tweets from her critics, one of which said "you need to get over the fact that you're black."

As a result of the controversy, Kunek issued an apology and posted the same image without the blackface.


A photo posted by AK (@alicekunek) on


Although Kunek did not appear to wear the blackface with malicious intent, the fact that she thought it was okay to do so in the first place speaks to a larger problem of racial insensitivity.

As ATTN: previously reported, in October 2015 a fraternity and sorority at the University of California Los Angeles, raised controversy when they held a "Kanye Western" themed party that included people dressed in stereotypical black attire and people allegedly wearing blackface.

Although party-goers apologized, the party's theme incited backlash from the Black community.

"I maintain that this was undoubtedly an act of gross negligence and willful ignorance," Aman Williams, a member of UCLA's Afrikan Student Union, told ATTN:. "Hosts of the party must be accountable for the inherently anti-Black nature of party theme itself. At a party where the racial demographic is overwhelmingly white, and attendees are encouraged to take on the identity of a Black man, it goes beyond appropriation."

In 2013 actress and dancer Julianne Hough came under fire for wearing blackface when she dressed as "Orange is the New Black" character Crazy Eyes for a Halloween costume according to US Weekly. She too, apologized saying that it was "certainly not my intention to be disrespectful or demean anyone in any way."

But the thing is, blackface is and will always be offensive. The action of painting oneself black was something that white people once did to make fun of Black people and to exaggerate their culture. But as much as blackface is frowned upon, then why do people think it is okay to do it?

For instance, most of the people who rebuked Cambage told her to "lighten up" because Kunek's blackface was just a joke. The party-goers at the "Kanye Western" theme party just wanted to have a fun party. And Julianne Hough just wanted to have a cool costume, not realizing the racist implications of her actions. In these cases, no one appeared to have ill-intentions.

But no matter how much time passes and how often popular Black culture is pushed to the forefront of society, stepping out in blackface is a bold move with a negative connotation.

The same thing can be said about the use of the word "nigger." Although many Black people have used the word, it still is highly debated on among Black people whether or not it is appropriate for anyone other than a Black person to say it. It is true, that "nigger" has been used by white people as a derogatory term to refer to Black people. But over time, Black people have struggled to reclaim the word and it can be heard in mainstream music such as hip-hop.