9 Liberal Celebrities Who Have a Blackface Problem
Last week, when the country learned about Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s med school yearbook featuring him in either blackface or a KKK uniform, there was universal outrage. There have been calls for his resignation even within his own party. Northam has so far refused to resign, and he probably has good reason. Liberals tend to only get outraged when it’s convenient for them, but in time, they are very forgiving when one of their own does something racist.
Heck, how many Democrats served with and repeatedly praised former KKK-member Senator Robert Byrd (D-W.V.)?
Northam knows that he can probably ride this out and serve out his term. How many liberals have donned blackface and not seen their lives and careers destroyed? To answer this question, let’s look to Hollywood… a bastion of left-wing ideology and hypocrisy. They’ll call Donald Trump a racist despite no evidence of it, but they’ll turn a blind eye when one of their own mocks African Americans by wearing blackface for the sake of entertaining other rich white liberals.
9. Ted Danson
My first memory of a celebrity getting in hot water for wearing blackface was in 1993. I was only thirteen, but I can remember the fallout from Ted Danson donning blackface at a celebrity roast for Whoopi Goldberg at the Friars Club. Danson was dating Goldberg at the time, and maybe he thought that made it okay, but audience members were horrified. There’s no video of the performance, and I’m sure Danson is thankful for that, but the photos of the event don't lie:
8. Joni Mitchell
One thing I didn’t know about famed singer Joni Mitchell until writing this article was that in 1976 she attended a Halloween party dressed as a black pimp. According to her friends, times were “different” back then. According to rock photographer Henry Diltz, who was at the party, "She dressed up like that to see if she could fool her friends and boy, did she. Everyone in that room was her friend and none of us got it. She was proud that she could pull that off."
Proud is an interesting word to use.
7. Billy Crystal
During the 2012 Oscars, which Billy Crystal hosted, Crystal had filmed a montage tribute to select films of the previous year. In one part, he wears blackface portraying Sammy Davis Jr. This was not Crystal’s first time in blackface. In the 1986 HBO special "Don't Get Me Started” Crystal portrayed Sammy Davis Jr. opposite Rob Reiner (another Hollywood liberal), who didn’t seem to think anything was wrong with it at the time.
Really, Meathead? Even you didn't see a problem with this?
6. Cyndi Lauper
Believe it or not, Cyndi Lauper did, in fact, show her untrue colors in the music video for her song “She Bop."
It’s hard to figure out exactly why it was necessary for her to don blackface in this video. Perhaps we should ask Ralph Northam? This video actually came out in 1984, the same year as Northam's controversial yearbook.
5. Sarah Silverman
Sarah Silverman is offensive basically just being herself. She says grotesque things, and obviously isn’t above doing grotesque things either. For her own television program, "The Sarah Silverman Show," she wore blackface for a skit that only after the fact she regretted.
In an interview with GQ magazine, she said, “I don't stand by the blackface sketch. I'm horrified by it, and I can't erase it. I can only be changed by it and move on.” The sketch was written, approved, and aired without any apparent objection, but she was obviously sorry once people called her out.
4. Jimmy Fallon
Jimmy Fallon has a pretty sweet gig now as host of “The Tonight Show,” and apparently his 2000 blackfaced portrayal of Chris Rock on “Saturday Night Live” didn’t hurt his career one bit.
3. Jimmy Kimmel
Back in 2000, Jimmy Kimmel hosted Comedy Central’s “The Man Show,” which featured plenty of misogynist skits, I’m told (I never watched it). But perhaps the most controversial thing on the show was his portrayal of NBA Hall of Famer Karl Malone.
In addition to the blackface, Kimmel portrayed Malone as inarticulate. It doesn’t seem to have hurt his career all that much. As long as he’s anti-Trump, he’s in the clear.
2. Tom Hanks
In 2012, Tom Hanks had to defend himself after video surfaced of him at a fundraiser sharing a stage and joking with a man in blackface and an afro wig. Hanks was involved with Barack Obama’s reelection campaign, and there were calls for him to be removed from a campaign video he narrated.
1. Fred Armisen
Apparently, "Saturday Night Live" was so lacking in African-American talent in 2008 that for some time they relied on Fred Armisen to portray Barack Obama. Armisen is of Venezuelan and Asian descent. SNL, which has often used white actors to portray African-Americans, took a lot of heat for the decision.
I’m sure Armisen wasn’t very funny as Obama… but then again, when was the last time SNL was funny, period?
Matt Margolis is the author of The Scandalous Presidency of Barack Obama and the bestselling The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. His new book, Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama's Legacy, will be published in 2019. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis