Black face


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New Statesman essential non-fiction book of 2021
Featured in Book Riot’s 12 best nonfiction books about Black identity and history
Times Higher Education Book of the Week
2022 Finalist for the Prose Awards (Media and Cultural Studies category)

Why are there so many examples of public figures, entertainers, and normal, everyday people in blackface? And why aren’t there as many examples of people of color in whiteface? This book explains what blackface is, why it occurred, and what its legacies are in the 21st century. There is a filthy and vile thread-sometimes it’s tied into a noose-that connects the first performances of Blackness on English stages, the birth of blackface minstrelsy, contemporary performances of Blackness, and anti-Black racism. Blackface examines that history and provides hope for a future with new performance paradigms.

Object Lessons is published in partnership with an essay series in The Atlantic.

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Author:Ayanna Thompson

“Blackface reveals a legacy of performance that is pointed and detrimental, known but purposely forgotten, Thompson’s analysis is exquisite and exact. A new entry for the historical record.” – Ibram X Kendi-


“Essential! This is a lucid, engaging, and long overdue exorcism of American culture’s greatest haunt.” -Branden jacobs-Jenkins-



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