Blackface is illegal

"Blackfacing" is Anglicism of the Year

Foreign words, especially English words, can enrich the German language, especially if they express a situation for which there is no suitable German word. A jury chaired by the linguist Anatol Stefanowitsch is convinced of this and chooses the “Anglicism of the Year” every year. For 2014 she chose the term “Blackfacing” and thus decided on a term that has been in German usage for around 10 to 15 years. The phenomenon that this term describes - the painting of white faces black to depict people with dark skin - is, however, much older.

The expression in the English form "Blackface" originally comes from the American theater of the 19th century. In the so-called 'minstrel shows', white performers painted their faces black and played naive, stupid and funny slaves in accordance with the racist stereotypes of the time. According to the jury, the term has only been observed in Germany since the turn of the millennium, initially in connection with discussions about American theater history, later also in relation to German performances.

Lately the term “blackfacing” has also been used more and more outside of the theater context. The television show "Wetten, dass ...", in which dozens of people with black make-up appeared as the dark-skinned child character "Jim Knopf", was criticized as racist at the end of 2013. At the 2014 World Cup, some German fans caused a stir because they put on black make-up for the game against Ghana. "Blackfacing" allegations are also made in connection with the carol-singing tradition, in which one of the three wise men is often played by a child with black make-up.

About the term “blackfacing” the jury wrote: “This practice is widely regarded as racist because it treats the complex identity of a discriminated group as a costume that can be put on and taken off at will, and because it denies the affected group the ability to feel and to present their own experiences. ”In the reason for the choice, the jury also stated that the corresponding tradition has existed for a very long time,“ that [there] has only been a word since the borrowing and adaptation of the English Blackface / Blackfacing that this tradition can be named and valued ”.

In the following places came the terms “Big Data” as a term for huge amounts of data and the methods of their evaluation, as well as “Selfie”, the digital self-portrait with the smartphone. The latter was also the crowd favorite.