While a majority of Americans (53 percent) believe it is unacceptable for a white person to appear in blackface as part of a Halloween costume, another 34 percent say that such behavior is acceptable at least some of the time, according to a new survey.
White people were twice as likely as African Americans (39 percent compared to 19 percent) to say that blackface could be acceptable in some circumstances. Among Hispanics, 28 percent said that it was always or sometimes acceptable.
The survey of 6,637 Americans, by Pew Research Center, was mostly conducted prior to news that Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and other high-ranking Democrats in that state had worn blackface when they were younger.
Northam has been under fire since it was discovered that his medical school journal showed one person dressed in blackface and another in a Ku Klux Klan robe, leading him to admit that he also wore blackface in 1984 while dressing up as Michael Jackson.
That scandal, coupled with one that ended news anchor Megyn Kelly’s time with NBC, have brought the issue of blackface – and the historically painful meaning it has for African Americans – to the forefront of the national conversation.
To that end, researchers at Pew found distinctions on the issue fell along generational, educational and racial lines.
For example, white Americans under age 30 were significantly less likely to be comfortable with blackface, with 27 percent saying it was at least sometimes acceptable and 41 percent saying it was never acceptable.
By comparison, 40 percent of white people age 30 and older found it acceptable in at least some circumstances.
White Americans without a college degree were more likely (44 percent) to say blackface is always or sometimes acceptable, compared to 28 percent of those with at least a bachelor’s degree who said the same.
African Americans were overwhelmingly uncomfortable with white people using blackface, but they, too, were divided along educational lines, with 9 percent of college graduates finding it acceptable, compared to 21 percent of those who didn’t have a degree.
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Source: Daily Mail