Images: Kirby Casilli
Melbourne rapper Baro launched something of a tirade on Facebook last week with a post aimed at “educating” white people who may have intended on painting their skin black for Halloween.
We’re kind of with Baro on this one and even came up with this handy flowchart for those undecided on whether to blackface or not blackface for Halloween.
Baro’s post comes after a widely circulated incident concerning an Alabama school teacher who wore blackface in an attempt to make his Kanye West costume appear more authentic. Another incident involved a young Florida high school student who posted photos of herself donning blackface dressed as Nicki Minaj to social media.
I caught up with Baro after a gig at Melbourne’s Boney to talk about the reaction to his post and the racism he’s experienced as an Australian born to Ethiopian parents.
Noisey: So you’ve got an issue with white people painting their face black.
Baro: Blackface has a history and even though it [the incident] wasn’t here, it’s still belittling African-American and African people. I’ve seen these pictures of girls painting their face black on muck up day, dudes too. I went to school with a lot of white kids so I experienced that shit. Kids thinking that anything is ok and they were the superior race – they were actually saying that shit. I don’t really get worked up about anything so if I actually say something on my Facebook I’m not looking for any attention.
Often people are oblivious to the fact that it might cause offense. Do you think people painting their faces black is direct racism or a lack of awareness?
It’s a lack of awareness. These people don’t know any better. They don’t understand what this came from. They’re painting their face black and they should know that it has a history. It’s logic, they might not know the history of blackface but at the end of the day, it’s not cool.
Do you think schools are doing enough to raise awareness of the issue?
No way. I went to a predominantly white school where it was almost okay to say we were the inferior race. I’d get into physical fights with people and then I’d end up getting suspended, and they’d [teachers] show no sympathy to whatever ideas or logic I’d present in my defence. So I’d be the one who’d end up getting kicked out.
Does Australia have a racism problem?
Definitely. There’s a problem with racism that people are very oblivious to and they mask it themselves through patriotism. With my post I was just saying something that I thought people agreed with. I didn’t intend to start something and for it to blow up. And now people are saying I’m racist.
You’ve copped some backlash for the post.
I got called the most racist person on my own post all because I said ‘Dear white people’. How else do I address it? It’s not black people doing it. People are fucking stupid man, thinking I called all white people crackheads. Black people do crack too. I was just calling out a belittling of a people. Belittling any people is not on.
Do you think there’s an illusion of sophistication of our society, when in reality we’ve got this underlying racism that’s not being addressed?
Yeah exactly. It’s so fucking simple, people are people – whether you’re black or Muslim or Chinese or whatever race or religion you are. Some might say it’s just a costume and there may not be an intention to belittle a race but at the end of the day blackface has a history. I was trying to educate people, I dumbed down the post as much as I could and I still got these white dudes calling me a racist. There’s nothing bad in what I said. Some stupid cunt said “this is the last time I support your music” – he can suck my dick. Everyone else who agrees with him can suck my dick too. This was a very good process of filtering fuckboy fans.
How can we change it?
It’s up to the individual. You can’t just pick and choose which races you fuck with. You know, you can be nice to individuals and you can be rude to individuals. You don’t be rude to a race, you know what I mean?
You finished high school last year and you just released 17/18, what are you doing now?
I’ve finished something that’s going to come out soon. I’m not going to say much more but it’s cool – it’s different. I’ve been playing a lot of guitar and keyboard lately and just sitting in my bungalow being depressed, and there’s this girl but I don’t want to give away much more.
Would you say it’s deeper or more reflective than your past work?
Yeah. It’s very personal, it’s my personal thoughts on this female energy that I really gravitated towards but it’s not really a happy story but I’m hoping it ends happy in the next couple of years. I’ve basically given it away in that previous statement but it’s all good, you’ll understand the music. It’s tight, I think it’s beautiful.
Baro’s ’17/18’ EP is available now.
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