Virginia Pol Only Did Blackface Because Of How Very Much Like Dave Chappelle He Is

Post-Racial America
douchey looking man with guitar
Faron Hamblin, Instagram

It's the year 2021. It's been like 80 years since blackface was a popular form of entertainment. There have been multiple blackface-related scandals in the last decade, exactly none of which have ended well for the person doing the blackface. And yet, we've somehow still got people going around doing blackface and claiming they had absolutely no idea that blackface is racist or that anyone would consider it as such. How? (Probably through lying).

Meet Faron Hamblin. Hamblin is a white town councilman in Richmond County, Virginia who got into trouble this week after posting a picture of himself, in blackface, dressed as Randy Watson (of Randy Watson and Sexual Chocolate) from the Eddie Murphy movie Coming to America.

Here is Hamblin in his costume, which he could have worn just as easily without wearing blackface.

If you can't do a costume without doing blackface, perhaps that is not the costume for you. Find another one! Not every person can pull off every single costume, and sometimes there are things you just don't get to do.

In a non-apology posted to his Facebook page, Hamblin explained that he was only doing blackface as a sign of respect and compared himself to Eddie Murphy and Dave Chappelle, probably because of the latter's recent foray into spending all of his stage time whining about trans people existing instead of being funny.

Folks I made a post of me dressed like the movie character Randy Watson. For those of you who know the movie, Randy is a [B]lack man. So I dressed the part. Suit, hair, and yes my makeup was brown. Many saw it degrading, which I did not. I did it to show my love for the character and the movie. But since I'm white it's considered by some as offensive to dress as a black person. It's off limits if your [sic] a white person. I think that's ridiculous! Especially when it was done to be a tribute to the character.

Many people with an open mind could see I did it out of respect. In the movie Eddie Murphy portrayed a white Jewish man and it was funny as hell. I can't speak for the Jewish community and I'm sure some were offended. But Eddie showed his freedom of expression. He never meant any ill harm to the Jewish community. Did he know at the time it would offend some people? Probably.

Like Eddie, or Dave Chappelle, I don't go around walking on eggshells, worried about hurting someone's feelings. But I never intended for this to be a racist issue. I intended it to be funny, yes. Randy Watson is funny. I was also accused of causing division. I definitely didn't post it with that in mind. I posted it because I think everyone should have the freedom of expression. Not just about what costume you choose. Again my choice was to show respect and not disrespect.

This is the second blackface incident in just over a month, of someone claiming they were trying to do it as a show of respect. The previous one, you may recall, involved a special ed assistant darkening her skin to look like Rosa Parks.

Shitty behavior doesn't suddenly become unshitty because you claim you are doing it out of respect, especially if it is something you have been repeatedly asked not to do by the people you are claiming to show respect for. And it's not about "respect," it's about power. It's somewhere in the same ballpark as men claiming that women should appreciate catcalling because they are just trying to give us compliments.

There is power in demanding that people accept something they find degrading as a sign of respect or as a compliment and Hamblin doesn't like being told he doesn't have that power. When people say they want to go back to some magical time "when people weren't so easily offended," what they are really saying is they want to go back to a time when people didn't feel as comfortable speaking up when they were hurt or insulted. People like Hamblin long for a time when they had such social power that no one would have said anything to them for doing blackface or otherwise being shitty.

I refuse to believe for even a second that Hamblin, an adult man living in the year 2021 and not 1921 thought he was going to don blackface and everyone was going to think it was a lovely idea. He knew what he was doing and he did it because a part of him thinks that if people like him just keep doing this shit while claiming they are doing it out of respect, they can normalize it, and that by normalizing it, they will get back the social power they feel they've lost.

We can take a small amount of satisfaction in knowing that every time they try, they lose — they find out that they do not have that power and will not be getting it back. And they out themselves to everyone they know (or will ever meet) as a freaking asshole.


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Robyn Pennacchia

Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse


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