When a discussion about whitewashing arises, there are often claims that “blackwashing,” the practice of replacing a traditionally White character or role with a Black actor, is the same issue. Much is known about whitewashing and how damaging it is to represent People of Color in film with White actors, however, blackwashing is a recent term to describe what is more often called “colorblind casting.” This study aims to dissect how whitewashing and blackwashing differ, as well as discuss how blackwashing succumbs to the racist history of the Hollywood film industry despite its attempt at leading a brighter future for Black representation in film. Whitewashing will be viewed as direct racism, or the act of treating people differently in a way that promotes unequal opportunities. Blackwashing will be viewed as an attempt at direct anti-racism or the act of promoting equal treatment that results in equal opportunities. However, through the effects of intertextuality, or ascribing meanings from one image onto another, blackwashed characters become a blank slate for the audience to attribute negative Black stereotypes to.
The results show that blackwashing is a stepping-stone to quality Black representation in the Hollywood film industry. However, it is not a perfect solution to the issues of Black underrepresentation and misrepresentation in the long run.
Smith, Alyssa M., "Whitewashing v. Blackwashing: Structural Racism and Anti-Racist Praxis in Hollywood Cinema" (2021). Senior Independent Study Theses. Paper 9455.
African American Studies | Africana Studies | Visual Studies
intertextuality, anti-racism, structural racism, whitewashing, blackwashing, stereotype, Eurocentrism
Bachelor of Arts
Senior Independent Study Thesis
© Copyright 2021 Alyssa M. Smith