Poll: More than one-third of Americans OK with blackface as Halloween costume

  • Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, left, and his wife Pam, watch as the casket of fallen Virginia State Trooper Lucas B. Dowell is carried to a waiting tactical vehicle during the funeral at the Chilhowie Christian Church in Chilhowie, Va., Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. Dowell was killed in the line of duty earlier in the week. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, Pool) Steve Helber

New York Daily News
Published: 2/11/2019 11:57:48 PM

More than one-third of Americans are OK with wearing blackface as part of a Halloween costume, according to a recently conducted poll from the Pew Research Center.

On the heels of Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s recently surfaced medical school yearbook photos that allegedly show him wearing blackface and his public admission of wearing blackface at least once, 34 percent of Americans said that it was “always acceptable” (15 percent) or sometimes acceptable (19 percent) to use a substance to darken one’s skin in order to pantomime, parody or ridicule someone of African descent.

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring also admitted last week to having previously worn blackface. Both Northam and Herring have said they have no plans to resign from their posts.

The poll found that the divide between political parties on the issue is stark. About 75 percent of Republicans said that it was always or sometimes acceptable compared to 21 percent of Democrats.

Overall, the poll found, 39 percent of white people said blackface was fine. Some 18 percent of African-Americans and 28 percent of Latino agreed. However, 53 percent of African-Americans questioned said it was never acceptable to don blackface. A similar divide on the issue exists between those aged 18 to 29 and those over 30.

In January, NBC and former Fox News host Megyn Kelly reached a settlement to hasten Kelly’s departure from the network that was spurred by her on-air comments regarding her opinion that blackface was acceptable for Halloween costumes.

The poll found similar results for people thinking it was acceptable to wear the traditional dress of another culture, an act referred to as cultural appropriation.

The margin of error for the full sample of 6,637respondents is plus or minus 1.7 percentage points.


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