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Seeing Race in Modern America$
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Matthew Pratt Guterl

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9781469610689

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9781469610696_Guterl

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(p.148) Chapter Seven Masquerade
Seeing Race in Modern America

Matthew Pratt Guterl

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter argues that gazing upon a body as a blackface or yellowface or whiteface is to see race twice, to note the very obvious exterior facade and the supposedly just as obvious subterranean reality. There is no subtlety, no obliqueness, in such masquerades. To lead the eye to this perverse second sight, such a masquerade requires significantly more than a simple color change: it demands an attention to the wretched detail on two levels at once. The men face each other. Both wear blackfaces. Their skin tone is identical, but nothing else is. One stands erect, with pitch-perfect posture, and stares manfully at his partner. The first figure has a mouth set in a tight grimace, a burning cigar tucked in the corner. There is something slightly off in his comportment. His hat is one size too small, his vest and pants are just slightly too colorful, and his corsage seems three times too large.

Keywords:   blackface, yellowface, whiteface, race, exterior facade, skin tone

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