Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Tania Saleh: between blackface and good intentions

The incredibly talented Tania Saleh found herself in hot water. 
Here is how she captioned her image:
كل عمري كنت احلم كون سوداء
I wish I was black, today more than ever... Sending my love and full support to the people who demand equality and justice for all races anywhere in the world.
#nojusticenopeace #georgefloyd #blacklivesmatter #usa #policestate #whitesupremacy #amrika #justice #peace #love #color #race #black #strangefruit (Photo montage from an original picture found on Pinterest)
Now, it is obvious that Saleh (whose work is otherwise admirable) did what is commonly known as blackface. I assume the original Pinterest image she did a photo montage of had the afro already (which does not exonerate Saleh but might alleviate the cultural appropriation found in the final photo).
Truth be told, Saleh is neither the first nor the last creative to be accused of blackface, actually comedian Jimmy Kimmel just apologized profusely for an image of him which shows he had blackened his skin. In 2018, fashion house Prada removed figurines which closely resembled black caricature, and in 2019 Gucci withdrew a sweater which resembled a blackface, and in 2016 Marc Jacobs received backlash for his models' afro hairdo.
In other words Saleh is in good company. Still, it might have been a faux pas. But as the French saying goes "hell is paved with good intentions".
In the meantime, check her incredible "wehde"....