WATCH: CNN’s John Avlon Breaks Down Past ‘Few Months of Belated Blackface Awareness’


After the past week of continuous blackface headlines, CNN analyst John Avlon appeared on New Day this morning and offered viewers a brief explainer on the history of racist makeup and why they still impact America today.

“Why in the world are we still bedeviled by something as stupid and cruel as blackface in 2019?” Avlon rhetorically asked.

In the past week in Virginia politics, the state Attorney General Mark Herring (D) was exposed for wearing blackface to dress as Kurtis Blow in the 1980s, the state Senate Leader Tommy Norment’s admitted to helping edit a 1968 yearbook filled with racist content, and a blackface photo was found in Governor Ralph Northam’s (D) 1984 yearbook. (He also admitted to wearing blackface on a separate occasion).

“It’s been a big few months for belated blackface awareness,” Avlon observed. “Afterall, Megyn Kelly torched her NBC gig after a cringe-worthy conversation in which she just couldn’t quite get why blackface is bad. And just yesterday, Gucci was forced to pull a $900 sweater off the shelves, because, well — just look at it.”

Even the anti-Civil Rights term “Jim Crowe” was inspired by blackface, the former Daily Beast editor noted.

“Jim Crowe was the name of a popular minstrel act in the 1800s, which was performed in blackface, and that’s just an indication of the foundational pain, the institutional racism that’s beneath what some people apparently think is a party trick,” he said.

As for the Hollywood stars who wore blackface in films made during the mid-20th century, Avlon said it was a “reflection” of the ignorant culture they lived in, but added that there is no excuse for wearing blackface in 1984.

The analyst concluded the segment by repurposing a famous line from the late-right-wing pundit Andrew Breitbart:

“The toxic legacy of slavery and segregation flows downstream from our culture into our politics. But projecting current values on the past can be tricky business, just as demanding zero tolerance for long past mistakes can eliminate the virtues of learning and forgiveness. But we need to agree on this. It is long pastime to leave the legacy of slavery, hate, and segregation that is blackface on the ash heap of history. And that’s your reality check.”

Watch above, via CNN.

[image via screengrab]

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Caleb Ecarma was a reporter at Mediaite. Email him here: Follow him on Twitter here: @calebecarma