couple things

In Playing Indian by Deloria, I learned about another practice of blackface besides it repugnant American practice. In England, to hunt game was a gentleman’s prerogative. Part of a poacher’s strategy was blacken his face so as to not be recognized. This eventually led to the Black Act of 1723. Deloria sees these people as figurative and probably literal ancestors of White settlers who disguised themselves as “Indians” for various acts including civil disobedience like the Boston Tea Party.

In the course of checking this stuff out online, I learned that the words “mask” and “masquerade” share a probably etymology: French mâchurer (Cotgrave, 1611) to daub, to black the face, Catalan mascara soot, black smear (end of 14th cent.), Portuguese mascarra stain, smut (16th cent.), mascarrar to daub, to smear (1813). (from the OED under the etymology of mascaret, n)

This meme was circulating on Facebook. I like the quote but wasn’t sure it was authentic. It’s actually in Gould’s wikipedia article complete with citation. Cool.

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