Although an increasing focus on diversity and inclusivity across all spheres of life has entered international discourse over the last few years with the sartorial world often at the forefront of this societal transformation, the road to tolerance is often impeded by an intersecting path of ignorance and prejudice.
Kuwaiti make-up artist Ghadeer Sultan is the latest to be accused of donning ‘blackface’ after a trio of posts uploaded on her Instagram account yesterday depicts the influencer with her skin darkened several shades — a trait historically used in the mid-1800s when white performers in the United States would paint their skin with shoe polish or greasepaint and dramatize certain features to perpetuate racial stereotypes of the African-American community.
Sultan joins a slew of notable modern-day personalities around the world facing public backlash for such portrayals including beauty mogul Kylie Jenner, late-night talk show host Jimmy Fallon, American dancer Julianne Hough, and, most recently, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau.
Sultan’s first video features the Arab blogger wearing different wigs and shades of skin tones lip-syncing to “We Are The World 25 For Haiti”, a remake of the original charity single re-recorded to help the people of Haiti after an earthquake rocked the Carribean country. “No matter where you are from or what you believe in, we are all children of this world, and we all share it together equally,” she captioned the controversial video. “Beauty comes in all shapes and colors, so lets love each other and celebrate our unity.”
While some of Sultan’s two million followers have left comments that her makeup is “unacceptable”, “disrespectful”, “offensive”, and the posts should be deleted, Sultan defends the content she released on New Year’s Day, explaining that she did it to show her artistic abilities and not to promote racial discrimination.
“I am not racist..I hate racism,” wrote Sultan on her latest photo after receiving criticism on the previous posts. “What I’ve done is only to show what I am capable of…I love you all. Life is meant for living…living with love and passion for every one without thinking of what they are could really change your life….Think 2020 and live with passion for all peoples.”
As we enter a new decade and continue making collective strides toward empowerment and universal acceptance, it’s important to understand the origins and perspectives of those who have been oppressed—and leave blackface in the past where it never belonged in the first place.