Blackface, or the act of darkening one’s skin in an attempt to impersonate Black people, is an act that continues to persist in Canada. In their juxtaposing of racial expression with claims to racial transcendence, they are a manifestation of Canadian postracialism. The Arts Against Postracialism: Strengthening Resistance Against Contemporary Canadian Blackface is a SSHRC-funded knowledge mobilization initiative -led by Dr. Philip Howard (McGill University, Department of Integrated Studies in Education) in collaboration with artist/curator Camille Turner- that challenges blackface and postracialism by supporting efforts to challenge them.
This initiative builds on Howard’s earlier research that investigated instances of blackface as they occur in the contemporary moment in Canada, and which argues that this problematic phenomenon is rooted in Canadian settler-colonial relations in their anti-black iterations.
The current project seeks to contribute to challenging blackface on Canadian campuses by: building capacity for critique and spaces of healing for those negatively impacted by blackface; creating intra- and inter-campus networks between campus organizations interested in challenging blackface; and raising the level of critical dialogue about blackface.
(image: Water No Get Enemy 3017, Quentin Vercetty)