Let us contemplate the possibilities.
1. You’re out of sunblock and don’t want a burn; you happen to find a can of black paint next to your swim trunks in the back of your closet.
- Not okay to wear blackface.
2. You are going to a “Vaudeville” theme party but you can’t find your ventriloquist’s dummy; your goth girlfriend offers to share her black makeup.
- Still not okay to wear blackface.
3. You are a student at Princeton University planning a run for Student Government president. It is Halloween, and you think it’d be funny to be “Peter Pan’s Shadow” by painting your entire body black and running around terrorizing people. You don’t mean to be racist, and you have tons of black friends, anyway, and they all think it’s okay.
- Definitely not okay to wear blackface, especially if there are cameras present.
PUSG presidential candidate (the Prince says he’s a shoo-in) Josh Weinstein ’09 found himself in Blackface Situation #3 freshman year, and judged it okay to post the shady pictures on his blog, complete with Malcolm X and Rosa Parks references. Though Weinstein removed the material more than a year ago, a “Concerned Undergraduate” (who set up an e-mail account solely for the purpose of anonymously tipping this story) sent it to us this week, which means “Concerned” saw and copied the material years ago and has been sitting on it ever since.
Smear campaign? Inigo Montoya-level vendetta? As for how this will affect Weinstein’s candidacy, let us not forget Princeton’s election last year of president Rob “Rodent-Roast” Biederman, pyromaniacal torturer of squirrels (who only had to beat Grant “Get-Off-Our-Campus” Gittlin, banned from student housing due to extreme disciplinary disturbance). Which is to say, Princeton has a high tolerance for faux pas.
View the pictures, blog entry, and Weinstein’s new statement on the matter, after the jump.
anyway, we show up in forbes to commence our getting into costume mode, when i find out there was no blue paint to be found: green and black were our options. [redacted] quickly made due and became the hulk. we were tossing around ideas, obviously including teenage mutant ninja turtles, but in the end, most of us painted our faces all black
myself, [redacted], [redacted], and [redacted] all donned the black face paint to become the black man group, as a tribute to the lost blue man group idea. individually, we were our own entities: i was a shadow/rick james, bitch, [redacted] was malcolm x, [redacted] was nat turner, and [redacted] was rosa parks. nice.
Josh Weinstein’s statement (received on November 28, 2007):
The photos in question are from my personal website, and depict me at a costume party, dressed as a person’s shadow. It was very clear, from the beginning, what my costume was about: imitating a person’s shadow. As such, I followed around other party attendees, mimicking their actions. The friends I met at that party were humored by my idea, and at no point was there controversy about what my facepaint, speedo cap, and clothing portrayed.
It is disconcerting that someone, seeking to undermine my decency, would anonymously search through my archives and photos, (deleted over a year ago to save space), withhold them for a year, then suddenly reveal them at this late hour in the election season, in a desperate attempt at political-and more importantly, personal-defamation. They claim, incomprehensibly, that my costume that evening somehow suggests that I am a racist, or at least racially insensitive.
From the start, it was clear that I have had nothing to hide about these pictures. Were this really a case of conscious racial insensitivity, can anyone believe that I would post them on my personal website for all to see? Anyone who asserts that my costume had a racial bent would have to employ a biased interpretation of it, perhaps itself informed by racial stereotypes. The accusation of racial insensitivity is one that is being imposed from without; there is simply nothing to the accusation that my costume had something to do with racial complexion and less to do with a shadow.
It seems obvious that an accusation of racism against me is, to say the least, far-fetched. The more specific accusation was that my costume was meant to depict Rick James, the famed David Chapelle character, with my friends as prominent civil rights activists in African-American history. If my attempts at humor in any way suggested that this was the case, I offer my apology. Freshprince is my online diary, meant for my (and my friends’) use to look back on my college years. The news archive, after 2 years of almost daily posts became unwieldy.
The issue, as I said, isn’t about freshprince and my intentions, as someone, though solely with the intent of sabotaging my candidacy and much much much more importantly my personal credibility and friendships, viewed my pictures and post as visual and textual racial slurs. While the caption of one of the pictures reads “shadow and ladies” and the others are equally innocuous, the anonymous e-mailer would like everyone that reads Ivy Gate and every member of the Princeton community to think “Josh Weinstein is a racist.” If you feel this way, based on my actions as a freshman with no intention (as anyone who has ever met me could attest) of offending my friends and peers, I wholeheartedly apologize. Anyone who has ever met me can attest that I am not a racist by any means; they would just like me to stop using the Borat accent.
I would like to explicitly point out that I do not believe that my opponent in the election is in any way associated with this anonymous person.