Woman's Project to Raise Awareness About African Tribes Backfires

January 7th 2016

For the most part, everyone knows that it's not a good idea to wear blackface — ever. But one woman apparently didn't get the memo.

In an effort to raise awareness to some of Africa's most secluded tribes, Hungarian journalist Boglarka Balogh plastered herself in blackface. Balogh worked together with a graphic designer and created images of herself painted with dark skin and wearing the traditional attire of different African women.

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Boglarka BaloghBored Panda/Boglarka Balogh - boredpanda.com

The pictures first appeared on Bored Panda in a post titled, "I Morphed Myself Into Tribal Women To Raise Awareness Of Their Secluded Cultures."

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In the post Balogh explained her awe of these different African cultures:

"These stunning portraits show how beauty varies across the globe and prove that all of us are beautiful in a different way. They’re celebrating stunning tribal beauties at the brink of extinction."

But good intentions or not, the internet didn't appreciate her gesture, calling out her attempt at raising awareness in this way, offensive. You can see some of those reactions:

instagram commentInstagram/itsbrittny - instagram.com

The post has since been removed and Balogh issued an apology:

"Since I had no intentions to offend anyone and yet I’m not able to answer to all of you, I’ve decided to delete my post. My intention was 100% pure with this tribal art, being a human right lawyer and journalist who knows pretty much about racism and similar issues, I have never imagined that my work will annoy so many people and that I will have to explain myself. And sure, I will not do that. Keep calm and love every human."

Although Balogh might have had noble intentions, any time someone paints his or her face black it is offensive due to the sensitive nature of what blackface represents and its racist connotation. The action of painting oneself black was something that white people once did to make fun of Black people and to exaggerate their culture.

Balogh's admiration and respect with the African tribes may be great but can also be associated with cultural appropriation, which is glamorizing and often exploiting a culture without real understanding of it.

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