Poll reveals nearly half of Americans see nothing wrong with Blackface

More people don't seem to have a problem with blackface than many might think, according to a new survey taken about attitudes toward it

This image shows Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s page in his 1984 Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook. The page shows a picture, at right, of a person in blackface and another wearing a Ku Klux Klan hood next to different pictures of the governor. It’s unclear who the people in the picture are, but the rest of the page is filled with pictures of Northam and lists his undergraduate alma mater and other information about him. (Eastern Virginia Medical School via AP)


Given all the blackface controversies making headlines lately, it might be unsurprising that a new poll has found a large section of the American population secretly doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with the racially charged practice.

According to the Atlanta BlackStar, researchers working with YouGov, an international Internet-based market research company, took a poll at the beginning of February amid the blackface scandals taking place among politicians and others.

READ MORE: Gayle King checks Governor Northam, when he tries to pretty up slavery

In the survey, 1,500 Americans of across varying racial, gender, socio-economic and party lines were asked, “Is it acceptable or unacceptable for a white person to wear blackface makeup?”

Only a slight majority of 58 percent said they found it unacceptable, 16 percent said wearing makeup meant to mock people of color was totally acceptable and a surprising 26 percent were undecided. That means a total 42 percent of Americans either condone blackface or aren’t really passionate about their stance on the matter, despite the fact that it has been considered a socially unacceptable practice for decades.

READ MORE: Virginia governor’s blackface yearbook scandal spotlights deeply embedded racism in US

The biggest disparity amongst who is against vs who is for (or apathetic) about the issue shows up among political parties. A whopping 29 percent of registered Republicans were for blackface while only 6 percent of Democrats said the same. Eighty-one percent of Democrats were staunchly against blackface and found it outright unacceptable compared to only 44 percent of Republicans willing to say the same. As for the undecided group, twenty-seven percent of Republicans were unsure about their feelings on it while only 14 percent of Democrats were apathetic.

The poll was specifically inspired by the backlash against Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, who was photographed in a medical school yearbook wearing blackface in 1984. Since then Virginia’s the state Attorney General Mark Herring has admitted to wearing “brown makeup” for a 1980 costume party in an effort to look like a rapper, and Republican Florida Rep. Anthony Sabatini faced calls for him to resign after a photo surfaced of him wearing Blackface as well.

READ MORE: Blackface pictures surface from N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper’s college yearbook at UNC Chapel Hill