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Joy Behar Faces Backlash After Blackface Photo Surfaces

Nick Step/Flickr

I bet the most searched word on the internet this week is "blackface," and if you're wondering why, then strap on your seat belt because it's about to be a bumpy roller coaster ride.

So what exactly is blackface?

The origin of the practice dates all the way back to the mid-19th century when performers would darken their skin and exaggerate their features to look stereotypically black. In these plays, black people would be depicted in a negative light as uneducated, foolish, and lazy.

While these performances were intended to be funny, it wasn't perceived as so among the black community; they were and still are considered disrespectful, hurtful and demeaning.

This week, while one American professor was busy analyzing the classic Disney film Mary Poppins and labeling it as racist for supposedly featuring blackface in one of the scenes, a much bigger scandal was brewing within Virginia's political landscape.

In addition to the state's lieutenant governor, Justin Fairfax, being accused of sexual assault, both the Attorney General, Mark Herring, and the Governor, Ralph Northam, are facing accusations of racism.

First, photographs of Northam from his time in medical school surfaced and he's seen in blackface while posing next to someone dressed up in Ku Klux Klan. Shortly after the scandal broke, Herring, who would replace Northam and Fairfax if they resigned, admitted that he too wore blackface while dressed up as a rapper during his University of Virginia days.

Ralph Northam/Twitter

While the nation is still trying to come to grips with these revelations, another prominent figure got thrown into the blackface scandal train.

The Wrap media editor Jon Levine shared a clip of The View host Joy Behar discussing a time she dressed up as a "beautiful African woman" for Halloween and people are not impressed.

In the video from 2016, the controversial host and her colleagues are talking about the photo in what appears to be a joking manner, with former co-host Raven Symone asking "Joy, are you black."

However, many social media users took the issue much more seriously, pointing out that something like the makeup she was wearing and pretending to be African (even though Behar did it out of admiration for Diana Ross) is a form of blackface.

Others pointed out that Fox host Megyn Kelly was recently fired for asking a question about blackface, so Behar should be held to the same standards.

Some people, including members of the black community, don't think Behar was wearing blackface, but for many others, even the slightest intentional darkening of the skin to resemble a black person is seen as offensive.

Both Behar and the network have been remained silent since the video went viral, but it's only a matter of time before they're forced to face the storm.

Do you think Behar is in blackface? Let us know in the comments!

Blair isn't a bestselling author, but she has a knack for beautiful prose. When she isn't writing for Shared, she enjoys listening to podcasts.