Daily Wire host: “There's nothing inherently wrong with blackface”

Knowles: “Should we cancel an entire major form of the American theatrical tradition?”

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Citation From the November 28, 2023, edition of The Daily Wire's The Michael Knowles Show

MICHAEL KNOWLES (HOST): I don't wanna move on too quickly from what is almost guaranteed to be my Media Matters highlight clip of the day, which is that there's nothing inherently wrong with blackface. And it's just a fact. And I think it's ridiculous that anyone even pretends to contradict this today. You don't need to take my word for it. Here is proof that there is nothing inherently wrong with blackface care of, I don't know, the last however many decades you can possibly remember from Hollywood.


So, a lot of times conservatives will point to these clips -- whenever some lib calls us racist, we point to these clips and we say, no, you're the real racists because you did blackface. But I actually don't see anything wrong with any of those performances. Any of them. Not one. They were all fine, even from the libs. Even Jimmy Kimmel making fun of Oprah, that was funny. Even Sarah Silverman, which is the edgiest one there because she's doing actual, like, grease blackface minstrel show performance, it's obviously ironic what she's doing. She's obviously making a commentary on it. It's totally fine.

Now, people draw a distinction. They will say, well, there's a difference between doing an impression of an actual Black person and doing blackface in the old minstrel tradition. And I agree, and certainly Jimmy Fallon doing an impression of Chris Rock is much more easily defended than someone doing, you know, an old Al Jolson number, but I wouldn't even write off the Al Jolson numbers so quickly. Here's why -- most people who attack blackface do so in a really convenient way to score some cheap political point, like they're trying to attack a kid at a Kansas City Chiefs game. But how many know the actual history of it? People think that blackface was merely a performance of white people to make fun of caricatures of Black people. That isn't true. So, if we're gonna cancel blackface, even the most difficult to defend, the old minstrel theatrical tradition, are we gonna cancel Billy Kersands?

Billy Kersands is a name -- if you've ever heard it, you've probably only ever heard of it on this show. Billy Kersands was one of the most famous minstrel performers ever in American history, and he was a Black guy. And he did blackface, but he was a Black guy. And very successful thespian, writer, comedian, performer. He came up with the Aunt Jemima character, which also got canceled later on by liberal white people because they said it was racist or something. Canceled. A Black character portrayed by a Black woman written by a Black comedian -- nope, has to go away because the white liberals don't like it anymore. Should we cancel Billy Kersands? Should we cancel an entire major form of the American theatrical tradition? Are we gonna cancel The Jazz Singer? It's the first talkie ever, starring Al Jolson because it has a blackface performance in it?

Now, let's say that you're a big lib and you wanna do that. You say, okay. Yeah. Well, we actually do have to cancel that whole genre of character, including the Black performers who put on a kind of blackface show because it's offensive and portrays negative stereotypes and whatever. Are you gonna cancel Tracy Morgan? Tracy Morgan, great comedian. His characters throughout the years have been hilarious. One of the great characters on 30 Rock, which is one of the great sitcoms. He is effectively doing a minstrel performance. And, in fact, they even allude to that on a later episode of 30 Rock where Alec Baldwin as a white guy does a performance of Tracy Morgan's family, which is largely in the minstrel tradition. Are we gonna cancel that? Maybe. They're probably gonna cancel that episode. We're gonna cancel Tracy Morgan? How about -- how about a lot of those shows in the 1970s that were great shows, but which were sometimes accused of minstrelsy? Shows like Good Times, The Jeffersons, Sanford and Son -- are we going to cancel those? I don't know. Just seems to me, kinda crazy.