Blackface and Freedom of Expression

Gaiba, Chiara (2017) Blackface and Freedom of Expression. [Laurea], Università di Bologna, Corso di Studio in Mediazione linguistica interculturale [L-DM270] - Forli', Documento ad accesso riservato.
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With this work I would like to present the reader with a personal consideration about freedom of speech, its limits, and the controversies it has aroused, particularly in relation to the practice of blackface. The question I am trying to answer in this thesis is: should free speech be denied to those who want to use it for overt expressions of racism, such as blackface? In regard to the structure of this thesis, I start by briefly presenting the history of free speech, from Ancient Greece, up through the French and American Enlightenment, which respectively produced the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the American Constitution. Both of these documents placed cardinal importance on freedom of speech. I then move on to argue that freedom of speech protects those who express opinions that offend, shock or disturb the state or a great part of the population. And, even most importantly, it is my belief that such opinions and expressions should not be banned nor punished. To show this, I present the case study of blackface, which is the practice of applying dark make up on a white person in order to make that person look like a black. Then, I briefly explain the history of such practice. In light of its history, black communities see blackface as extremely insulting and racist, on the one hand because it is a form of cultural appropriation, and on the other hand because it reinforces the unequal relation between Blacks and Whites, where Whites are the most powerful and decide that they have the right to mock black people. Nowadays blackface is still persistent, and it is possible to find examples of it all over the world: in the Netherlands, with the long-standing tradition of Black Pete, in the UK, with the traditional folk dancers called The Coconutters, and finally in Japan, with many singers singing American songs in Blackface, and especially in the case of the girl band Momoiro Clover Z and the Rats and Stars’ photo in blackface before a show.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di laurea (Laurea)
Autore della tesi
Gaiba, Chiara
Relatore della tesi
Corso di studio
Ordinamento Cds
Parole chiave
Blackface,Freedom of Speech,Bamboozled
Data di discussione della Tesi
11 Luglio 2017

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