Why blackface remains popular on college campuses

As explicit blackface lost favor, the performance of imagined blackness remained important for white youth. Whether through music, beauty styles or speech patterns, white youth have continued to dip their toe into an imagined blackness before settling into white respectable adulthoods.

This history sheds light on why politicians dressed in blackface in college, and why students continue to do so now. College is a time when young people experiment with their identity. For young white students, putting on blackface allowed (and allows) young men and women to displace their anxieties on their newly black bodies.

But they can then rub off the paint and return to the privileges that their white skin affords them.