Every year around Halloween, for some God-forsaken reason, a select number of white party-goers, trick-or-treaters, or just plain idiots decide that simply dressing up as a celebrity or notable person of color isn’t good enough and they have to tar or brown up their face to wear Blackface. Every f*cking year. In 2015, the most notable person to do this was country star Jason Aldean, who decided it was a good idea to dress as Lil Wayne and brown up his skin to do so.
Pretty ghastly stuff. But, like most controversies, it passed and Aldean went to work on his seventh studio album, They Don’t Know, due out on September 9. To commemorate the release, the “Lights Come On” singer spoke with Billboard about everything from his home life, Blue Collar America, and how the term “Bro-Country” is a ridiculous term (which I actually agree with). But in between all those questions, the Blackface controversy came up, and his first public comments on the matter weren’t so evolved:
“The singer, publicly addressing the situation for the first time, says he just wanted to hang out with friends, found the costume in a store and Kerr, a makeup artist, painted his face so he could go unrecognized in public.
‘In this day and age people are so sensitive that no matter what you do, somebody is going to make a big deal out of it,’ he says. ‘Me doing that had zero malicious intent … I get that race is a touchy subject, but not everybody is that way. Media tends to make a big deal out of things. If that was disrespectful to anyone, I by all means apologize. That was never my intention. It never crossed my mind.'”
Far be it from me to harangue anyone, but that apology is just not good enough in 2016 — there’s simply no excuse for Blackface. Exactly what response is expected from tarring up your face to impersonate a person of color? If it crosses your mind that zero people would be impacted by that negatively, then perhaps there wasn’t that much thought given in the first place. It’s not a matter of oversensitivity or race being a touchy subject, it’s that the mere act of Blackface is so aggressively antagonistic that there’s no way to wear it and not be making a statement. A negative ignorant statement at that.
If Aldean feels he shouldn’t be judged unfairly with broad terms like “bro-country,” he is absolutely right to want that — he should be judged by his actions. And his prior actions — as well as this half-baked apology — show that he’s still got a way to go.