Last week, Siwa released the music video to her song “NONSTOP.” It’s a cute and colourful clip of Siwa performing in a circus with her background dancers chalked up with powder and makeup, dressed as various animals and circus performers. The thing is though, some fans are accusing the singer for a person allegedly committing blackface in the music video.
In the music video above, one of the performers is seen dressed as a monkey with shades of dark makeup on their face. Whether intentional or not, the idea of someone dressing as a monkey and darkening their face has a long racist history and reinforces a cruel racist view of Black people as "animals".
As the Instagram post below explains, blackface refers to a non-Black person darkening their skin to impersonate a Black person. In the 19th century and beyond, these depictions often were the only form of "representation" for Black people, and depicted them as “lazy, superstitious, dim-witted, hypersexual, criminal and cowardly,” or in this case, like an animal.
Blackface is a historically harmful and dangerous thing because it not only perpetuates offensive stereotypes of the Black community, but has taken away employment opportunities for black people in the modern era.
In a recent Instagram post, Siwa addressed this criticism and stressed that “no one in my video is wearing blackface.”
“It’s awful that anyone’s mind would even go there,” she wrote. “Kids dressing in animal costumes, having their faces painted to look like animals, acting the part. There were zebras, tigers, dogs, clowns, mermaids, everything.”
The former Dance Moms teen, who reminded her fans that “Black Lives Matter, today, tomorrow, yesterday and forever,” admitted that since the accusations, she’s been experiencing a wave of online hate towards her.
“I blocked certain people online and stopped following others because I was tired of seeing the personal hate on me,” she said, stressing that her response was not related to the criticism about her music video. “Some people will do anything for attention and that includes being mean.”
“People were sending me really horrible and disgusting messages about my appearance, my sexuality, my content, and overall just being hateful… I’m on the right side of history here. Stop trying to make this about something it isn’t.”
In other news, Siwa recently removed her trademark blonde side ponytail in a dramatic hair change, only to return to it again days after.