Some people commit blunders publicly, receive their fair share of educational comments, yet fail to apologize or even admit they were in the wrong. But when it comes to incidents that touch communities, religions, or races, is the silence of a public figure admissible?
Kuwaiti makeup artist and social media personality Ghadeer Sultan chose to dive into 2020 with a new look to showcase her artistic skills in the makeup field. If her 2 million Instagram followers ever had the slightest doubt towards her face paint dexterity, it was now imperative to kill those suspicions.
In a video she posted on Wednesday, Sultan appears drenched in dark brown concealer - face and neck; no hands - while posing in front of a microphone with the song We Are The World playing in the background.
This was the beginning of the nightmare.
Other than the video's content being a bit far from the song's lyrics and meaning, the makeup wizard's decision to paint herself tens of shades darker than her actual skin pigmentation shocked people.
"Sis that's a blackface what are u doing???" one user asked Sultan.
"What you did there is totally wrong..you can't do the blackface that [sic] considered a racist action ...and idk why are you doing those expressions and moves which are totally different from what the song is talking about," another wrote.
More such observations took over the video's comments section before they migrated to the following two blackface photos she uploaded on the same day.
Ignoring all the stories of those who fell for such a mistake before her, Sultan went on and uploaded another photo of her extremely dark makeup without addressing the issue. She instead wished people a happy new year.
Blackface is "a form of theatrical make-up used predominantly by non-black performers to represent a caricature of a black person." While there has been increasing awareness on the matter, blackface and stereotypical portrayals of darker-skinned people continue to plague mass media and pop culture until this very day.
Lebanese singer Myriam Fares went into this racist square in 2018 when she not only painted her face but her entire body black to represent the African culture in a music video. In December 2019, Lebanese TV show Menna W Jerr thought brining in a white man dressed as a female domestic worker and painting him several shades darker would be a successful comedy sketch. Turns out not everyone shares the same racist sense of humor.
If Sultan isn't a fan of Fares or news coming from Lebanon in general, maybe she could have noticed the social media controversy pertaining to Egyptian actress Shimaa Seif in May of last year. Or would international news from countries like, let's say, Canada would interest her more? 2019 was quite the year for blackface, really, and Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau surely knows that.
When Sultan finally took notice of the comments on her posts, she chose to upload one last blackface photo - so that the photoshoot and hours of skin darkening wouldn't go to waste - for all her followers to see.
"I am not racist .. I hate racism [...] What I've done is only to show what i am capable of... I love you all [...] Life is meant for living... living with love and passion for every one without thinking of what they are could really change your life ....Think 2020 and live with passion for all peoples. Happy new year #2020#happynewyear," was the caption of the final post.
Many wondered how someone could be "capable" of doing a blackface as if it's a skill or a talent someone practices daily to perfect.
Her caption - and insistence on sharing one last disgraceful visual - did little to calm people down.
Countries like South Africa, Ghana, India, and many others are suffering from the constant "white = beauty = privilege" mentality and are willingly (or so they think) going through the lengthy and hefty process of bleaching their skin. All the while Arab "public figures" go ahead and paint themselves black for virtual love, dismissing the influence white people have had and still have on those who are choosing to whiten their skin for a better life and bigger opportunities.
The scale is tipping in no one's favor, but an apology is due when an apology due.