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New Poll Reveals Shocking Discovery About Americans’ Attitudes Toward Blackface

A new poll reveals nearly half of Americans are OK with or uncertain about whether or not blackface is acceptable.

The research was conducted by YouGov, an international Internet-based market research company, Feb. 2-5 amid the growing blackface scandals erupting in the U.S. government.

The poll questioned 1,500 Americans of across different races, genders and party lines. Those polled were asked, “Is it acceptable or unacceptable for a white person to wear blackface makeup?”

Ralph Northam

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has walked back his apology for the blackface image that surfaced from a spread in a 1984 Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook with his name at the top. (Alex Edelman/Getty Images/The Washington Post)

The slim majority of people found it unacceptable by 58 percent. However, 16 percent said wearing the makeup was acceptable and 26 percent felt unsure. In total 42 percent of Americans condone blackface or aren’t certain about their stance on the matter.

Still, the divide among political parties on blackface has a wide gap.

The majority of Republicans said they were fine with blackface with 29 percent as opposed to only 6 percent of Democrats coming to that same conclusion. Eighty-one percent of Democrats found wearing blackface was outright unacceptable compared to 44 percent of Republicans who shared that feeling. Twenty-seven percent of Republicans were unsure about their feelings on it while 14 percent of Democrats weren’t certain.

The poll’s results come on the heels of blackface controversies involving Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, who recently recanted his apology that he was photographed in a medical school yearbook wearing blackface in 1984.

Among poll takers, 70 percent of Americans heard about Northam’s controversy while 31 percent said they hadn’t heard a thing. Roughly the same number of Democrats and Republicans said they’d heard about Northam with 75 percent of Dems ticking off that option and 74 percent of Republicans reporting the same. Just 25 percent of Democrats said they hadn’t heard about the governor in the news lately compared to 26 percent of Republicans.

Additionally, the state’s Attorney General Mark Herring admitted he wore “brown makeup” for a 1980 costume party in an effort to look like a rapper.

And since then, Republican Florida Rep. Anthony Sabatini faced calls for him to resign after a photo surfaced of him wearing blackface. However, he has refused to step down from his role, deeming the look an “immature high school prank” between friends that was “decontextualized.”


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