Blackface is a type of theatrical makeup that was used by non-black performers to play a black person. It was very popular during the 19th century and contributed to the spread of racial stereotypes. In 1848, minstrel shows with the use of blackface were an American national art of the time, making formal art like opera into popular shows for a general audience. In the 20th century, blackface also became a form in its own right. It was ended in America with the U.S. Civil Rights Movement.
In 1900, the reproduction of William H. West’s minstrel show poster demonstrated the transformation from "white" to "black."
Since 1830, Blackface had been a tradition in the American theater for about 100 years. It also became popular in other countries, including Britain where this tradition lasted longer than in America. In Britain, blackface occurred on primetime TV, most popular in The Black and White Minstrel Show that ended in 1978. In both America and Britain, blackface was mostly used in the minstrel performance tradition. In order to create “black faces,” white performers used burnt cork, shoe polish or greasepaint to blacken their skin and enlarge their lips. The performers often wore wooly wigs, tailcoats, gloves, or ragged clothes. Over time, black artists also started to perform in blackface.
Stereotypes embodied in the characters of blackface minstrels played a notable role in proliferating and cementing racist images, attitudes, and perceptions all over the world as well as in popularizing black culture. Some caricatures of blackface have persisted to the present day, and they cause ongoing controversy. Another point of view is that blackface is a type of cross-dressing in which a performer puts on the insignias of a class, sex, or race that stands in opposition to one's own.
By the mid of 20th century, attitudes about race and racism changed, which effectively ended the prominence of blackface makeup used in shows in America and other countries. It still remains in limited use as a theatrical device, but it is commonly used as satire or social commentary.
Probably, the most significant effect of blackface is the introduction of African-American culture to people from all over the world.
Blackface's groundbreaking exploitation, appropriation, and assimilation of African-American culture were a prolog to the lucrative packaging, marketing, and dissemination of African-American cultural expression.
Blackface is a type of theatrical makeup that was used by non-black performers to play a black person. It was very popular during the 19th century and contributed to the spread of racial stereotypes. In 1848, minstrel shows with the use of blackface were an American national art of the time, making formal art like opera into popular shows for a general audience.