It looks like Paula Deen is going to be on the receiving end of a lot of publicity. But she might not like it.
Seen above (in a now deleted tweet) participating in #transformationtuesday, Paula looks super cute in her “I Love Lucy” drag. Her son Bobby Deen is playing Ricky Ricardo — but he’s in makeup to make him look like he’s like Latino … or his interpretation of Latino, at least. What he’s doing is actually called “brownface,” and it has the same connotations as is well-publicized cousin, blackface.
Paula Deen, if you remember, got in a heap of trouble a couple years back her offensive statements were made public in a discrimination lawsuit against her. Former Paula Deen Enterprises employee Lisa Jackson sued Paula and her brother in 2013 over her use of the N word, and Paula’s desire to have a Southern-style wedding — complete with black waiters pretending to be pre-Civil war era slaves. Yikes.
You would think she would think twice before posting a picture like this on Twitter, but let’s give her the benefit of the doubt. They definitely didn't know that Desi Arnaz (the Cuban actor who played Ricky Ricardo) is closer to Bobby’s normal complexion than the makeup he's wearing — so maybe the Deen family doesn't know that brownface is actually a thing. Let's help them out.
Brownface, like blackface, is the donning of makeup by a person not of that race (Latino, in this instance) to appear like them. Historically, it, along with its cousins blackface and yellowface, were used to make fun of people of Latino, black, Asian and other races.
Today, we're making such strides in the road toward equality, and these kinds of acts conjure up terrible moments in American history where segregation wasn’t only OK; it was law, and interracial couples couldn't get married either. No one who believes in equality wants to bring up those feelings in other people.
YouTuber Kat Blaque has a great video on the history of blackface, and many of the same theories apply in this instance of “brownface”.
“Blackface is something that not only manifested on small back alley southern stages, It was and still is international. It was on Broadway, the Silver Screen and even has a long history in Music,” she says. You still see the parade of blackface on Halloween, and there are so many instances of it happening in popular media.
Kat Blaque goes on to say, “It's a part of American culture a lot of people want to ignore, but I believe we need to talk about because it DOES still impact [people] to this day.”
It’s clear we still do need to talk about it, since a lot of people still don't see what the problem is.