It’s got to be a pretty embarrassing time right now for Rachel Dolezal, the alleged white woman who pretended to be a black woman. She recently resigned from her post as Head of the NAACP’s Spokane, WA chapter and has had her picture plastered all over the news sites. Basically, this lady just cost herself her job, any future career prospects, probably her friends and any chance at being the BET’s Person of the Year.
But she isn’t the first person who switched races unbeknownst to the masses — there have been a few cases of people “passing,” as it was termed by the Nella Larsen book in 1929. Most of it was for the sake of “entertainment” though. Of course, none of them used their faked skin color to take a prominent role with the NAACP. That might have been the one that got her.
Here are four people who have posed as a different race in some capacity:
In contention for the funniest SNL skit of all time, this video of black comedian Eddie Murphy undergoing a transformation to become a white guy was even edgy in its time. You couldn’t get away with this hilarious comedic bit nowadays, which prompts the question: Is the world better off or no?
Danson was dating Whoopi Goldberg when the actor decided it would be funny/okay to attend a 1993 Friar’s Club Roast in blackface (as well as allegedly using the “n word” more than a dozen times). His career recovered okay and he’s now the lead on CSI. Imagine an actor getting away with that today. Unless she’s a cute little white girl like Julianne Hough.
Amos ‘n’ Andy
You don’t hear much about this show now, but for several years it was the biggest show on television and radio, running from the ‘20s to the ‘50s. It’s sole gimmick on radio? Two white guys pretending to be awful caricature’s of black minstrel show folk. When the show moved to television, they employed actual black actors. Impressive restraint, right? Black filmmaker Spike Lee mocked the convention of tropes like Amos ‘n’ Andy many many years later with his movie Bamboozled and even that is hard to find nowadays.
Crying Native American
You know him if you grew up in the 70s-90s, he’s Chief Iron Eyes Cody and he was the crying Native American in that Keep America Beautiful campaign. Yeah, that one. Oh, except his actual name was Espera Oscar de Corti and he was a pure Italian dude from Louisiana. Most people didn’t know that though. So he was sort of the Rachel Dolezal of his time.
Yes, there are a lot of comedians who have done blackface recently — including on YouTube and Robert Downey Jr. in Tropic Thunder. But this was a nice little list of some you might not have known about.