After 124 years, The Metropolitan Opera is finally getting rid of blackface.
Starting Monday, The Met will stop using makeup to darken white performers’ skin in their production of “Otello.” The opera, based on William Shakespeare’s "Othello,” stars a black general as a lead character, but the performer cast to play this role is white.
HuffPost Live host Josh Zepps asked Naomi André, an editor at ‘Blackness In Opera,’ why didn’t they cast a black performer to play the role in the first place. André noted that even today, darkening white performers' skin with makeup isn't uncommon and this is "a big step for The Metropolitan Opera."
Yohuru Williams, professor of history at Fairfield University, told Zepps that The Met's decision is "long overdue." Williams noted that separating the historical context of blackface used during minstrel shows in the 19th century from white performers darkening their skin today is an issue.
"Especially today in 21st century America where we find ourselves in the midst of this Black Lives Matter movement … it is, for me, problematic to divorce conversations from race away from this play," Williams said. "So it’s a huge step for The Met... but at the same time, if we divorce conversations from race, that history, from this play, we lose a great deal in the process."
Watch the full HuffPost Live conversation about The Met getting rid of blackface here.
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