Durham Pride is facing backlash after booking a Beyoncé tribute act. No, it’s not because Beyoncé is impossible to impersonate and nobody should ever dare to try. It’s because the person who is doing the impersonation is white.
Leanne Harper (or Green, as both surnames are used on the act’s Facebook) appears to be white. But she regularly gets up in the gig as “Beeyoncé,” the best Beyoncé tribute act in the UK according to her own claims.
The description for the act reads:
Beeyoncé is an international tribute artist inspired by the amazing artist Beyoncé. After traveling around the world in 2013 as the much loved “Jessie Jade,” Leanne Green has decided to delve one step further into the entertainment industry and has created the unmissable “Beeyoncé Tribute Show.”
With a show full of slick original choreography, jaw dropping vocal ability, phenomenal costume changes, plenty of audience participation and even a few added extra surprises for your viewing pleasure, we guarantee that this unique one of a kind show will leave you mesmerized and in disbelief that you have been up close and personal to the next best thing to Beyoncé herself.
People started accusing Harper of blackface after Durham, a city in England, began promoting its Pride celebration, where she’s slated to perform on May 27.
One angry local wrote on the Facebook event, “Can someone please explain to me how this isn’t blackface?”
Another wrote, “Blackface is making yourself darker to look like a black person. I’m confused as to how this isn’t that.”
Harper reacted angrily to the complaints, telling those who were irked, “If you’re offended, stay away.” She also wrote, “Should I not be allowed to perform as I am white?”
“I only use St. Tropez like any other girl on a Saturday night.” We’re guessing St. Tropez is a makeup or bronzer she uses. Obviously, she’s missing the point.
She continued that because none of her black friends or family have said anything, she must be OK. “I have dancers and family members of this origin,” she wrote in a post. “I would hope they would tell me if black face was what my act was about?
Is this blackface?
Blackface is defined as the makeup used by a non-black performer playing a black role. With that definition in mind, clearly this is an example of that.
Blackface is usually a subject that comes up after Halloween each year. Countless ignorant white people either purposely or accidentally choose Halloween costumes that are extremely offensive, which then get shared on social media.
In the essay “No, Blackface Is Never OK,” The Educator Room writes:
While many people are uneducated on the subject, blackface is totally insensitive and inappropriate. It has a deeply rooted and hurtful background, and with a quick internet search, one can easily learn that it is NOT the answer to this year’s Halloween party get-up.
No word yet on what Durham Pride is planning to do.