Whitewashing at Woodbridge

Alondrea Thompson, Writer

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The picture at the top of this article represents what we as black students have to face in modern-day America. Where we cannot wear our natural hair out in public and if we do, we are shamed. 

   This shows two sides to the students of color in this picture. Where we have to put up a mask and pretend to be someone who we are not and another side representing who we are naturally. This section is here to show you that “Whitewash” is a modern-day and ongoing issue in America and we need to take action.

   A term that has been going around in our community at Woodbridge is whitewashing. However, the question is, What is whitewashing and how is it common in our school? Whitewashing is a phrase used to describe someone who’s neglecting or abandoning their culture and taking up a new one. As a black student at Woodbridge Senior High School, there were times where I have been called “Whitewashed”. Whitewash is not a respectful word to people of color. In fact, it tells students of color that you have to act a certain way to fit into your culture. Junior, Sa’Raye N. Wynder-Burs stated, “All throughout my childhood I’ve been called whitewashed for various reasons: by family and by people who have heard me talk because I had such a big vocabulary and people would say ‘Hmm, you talk white’.” 

   The term “white-wash” has been around for a very long time. Its original meaning was to cover up blemishes. Senior Naiya’s statement is “I have heard that I’m not black enough because I don’t do everything that they do. If I don’t eat certain foods, If I don’t insert myself as the stereotypical black girl.” Whitewashing has expanded to the media when it comes to movies, tv shows, and even magazine covers. 

   Whitewashing has been around since the 1930’s when it came to movies involving people of color. Whitewashing is one of the many issues that we as, not only Americans but as people face in today’s society. Whitewashing is a form of ideology of “color-blindness” in which being silent in topics such as inequality did not matter to society anymore. Because that term exists, it has caused some individuals to live behind a mask to hide who they truly are. Sadly, it is a very common thing in the media however, a small number of people know the definition of that word. 

   Take the anime series Death Note, for example, it’s a Japanese anime and fans were expecting the live-action to feature Japanese actors taking on the roles in the movie. However, in 2018, fans were disappointed because most of the cast of the live-action of death note was all white and there was no Asian person in the cast to fill the role as any one of the leads. Which caused a lot of backlash. There was also another debate in 2019 in which people wanted Princess Tiana from Princess And The Frog to be white; meanwhile, the other 50% wanted her to be black. It is still a big debate to this day.

   In 1937, there was a movie called “The Good Earth” which takes place in China and the characters in the movie were all Chinese. You may be asking right now “what’s the problem with this?” Well, the problem with this movie was that the characters were portrayed by an all-white cast and they wore heavy yellow makeup. It goes for the same as blackface, portraying as a person of color is not okay at all. In fact, it’s very ignorant and disrespectful to those of color. There have been so many whitewashing incidents in 2016 due to movies being released and photoshoots being posted on the media.

   In fact, Whitewashing is very famous in Hollywood. It seems like Hollywood’s biggest excuse for casting a white person for a POC role is “We do not want to use stereotypes” or “We hired the best person for the job”. Which I believe is one of the most inexcusable responses for not hiring a person of color for a certain role. A way for Hollywood to avoid such backlash from the media is to go above and beyond into agencies and having auditions for those of color and to seek out those with the acting ability and potential, not because of their looks. It can expand the acting world for those who want to pursue a career in acting. 

   In the minds of students of color, When they are told that they do not act a certain way, it puts them down and it makes them feel like an outsider to their race. It also occurs with teachers of color as well. A way to put an end to whitewashing at our school is to keep our opinions to ourselves and to include others no matter what race you think they act like and what race they actually are because we are almost in 2020 and this should not be a big issue today. If we start today by including others, it can help our generation and the generations beyond us improve socially on not being prejudice towards others. 

   Another way to get rid of whitewashing at our school is to involve more of the POC unions in our community. I am talking about making announcements about what they are doing and even posting about club meetings which can include everyone. This can help our school environment in a positive and healthy way. I feel like if we make changes to the school, I think that our school year will be a blast. Woodbridge Senior High school needs change. 

   I think as a society, we need to get together and fix the racial issues that we are currently facing today. There have been cases in the United States where students of color have been sent home for wearing their natural hair out at school and in some cases where they have banned natural hairdos such as braids. I believe that as a society, we need to fix issues like this today, where there should not be any problem with wearing a hairstyle or for being different. At the end of the day, we’re all people and nobody should feel out of place just because they do things a little different than others. If we treat others how we as people would like to be treated, our world would be much more fair for everyone from all different backgrounds.