Letters to the Editor

Blackface incident needs further discussion in Miami

The story “Miami Parody features an actress in blackface, and audience “loves it”’ speaks volumes about awareness of how a cultural parody can provide both joy and pain to people who come from different cultural perspectives.

Minstrel shows featuring blackface influenced the background of public support across the United States for allowing apartheid segregation laws across the southern states and even in some northern cities and de facto segregation in the northern states. They were enforced by state-assisted terrorism.

The statements in the article defending blackface are exactly the same as those we heard during the last years of such shows in mainstream American theaters.

We recognize that racism has different forms more related to color in Latin America than in the United States, where the “one drop” rule applied, tying caste to any known African ancestry. Yet any observer traveling to Latin American countries will observe the color-related economic and social stratification.

The separation of the Cuban- and African-American communities in Miami is a barrier to our area achieving its full potential. Support for blackface comedy is counter to the hard work of committed people in both groups to build a “one Miami.” Mutual respect of each group’s experiences is important be it of those who fled a dictatorial government or those who fought apartheid laws enforced by terrorism.

While we welcome the decision by the Teatro Trail to cease using performers in blackface, we suggest a further step is necessary to bring closure to this issue and urge that the responsible people in the theater be willing to participate in a discussion of this issue and its ramifications arranged by a group such as MCCJ, a respected Miami organization dedicated to embracing diversity and building an inclusive community.” The NAACP would be willing to participate.

Ruban Roberts, president,

Bradford E. Brown,

second vice president,

Miami-Dade NAACP