Ethnic Notions, Lauren Meyers

Minstrel shows propogated images of black characters to justify slavery. Performance acted as a tool for oppression, and, considering how well we know the Jim Crow figure, it worked very well.

As minstrel shows evolved, African Americans took on performing roles but also a perpetuation of stereotypes. Questions of authenticity, appropriation, and representation began to emerge as African Americans imitated whites’ imitations of themselves. Was this evolution of minstrel shows beneficial in any way for African Americans? If not, why would they take up these performing roles? Was it strictly for monetary purposes?

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