So a group of Israeli high school students thought it would be a good idea to celebrate Purim by dressing up in KKK costumes and blackface. As you can imagine, a lot of people were offended (both within Israel and without). Surprisingly, though, some people are defending the students, including the Principal of the high school:
"The costume was designed to create interesting and important discussions." She added, "This act essentially created a platform where discussion can exist. There would be no difference if it were a Nazi costume." The principal said the students would not be punished.
Someone else wrote:
Purim represents the Jews special relationship with Hashem no matter what evil exists in the world. This is why some dress as Haman, and Romans and Greeks, and other enemies of the Jews. I see Nazis and KKK as enemies of the Jews and thus these costumes are acceptable.
The problem is that dressing up in blackface carries baggage that extends beyond the KKK costumes. Blackface invokes the minstrel shows and Vaudeville acts of America’s past, where Black people were dehumanized by virtue of being portrayed as “characters” played by White performers. Blackface also carries with it the damaging implication that Black skin is a costume that you can put on and take off. It has been used in the past to crowd out people of color from the entertainment industry, where we see White actors using Blackface, Brownface, and Yellowface to play Black, Hispanic, and Asian characters. Blackface therefore has demonstrable negative effects on the Black community.
The students say they “have no regrets,” which is unfortunate. The above attempts to defend these teens all miss the mark. Being a member of a historically oppressed group does not grant one a special dispensation to engage in behavior that perpetuates the cultural oppression of another group. The fact that the KKK historically oppressed Jews does not mean that it’s ok for a Jewish student to dress up in blackface “to create interesting and important discussions.” Using racism to fight racism is to oppress one group at the expense of another. It also undermines the admirable Jewish traditions of "going forth and repairing the world," and to "not oppress a stranger, for you know the heart of a stranger, for once you were strangers in the land of Egypt." If your method of fighting oppression encourages the oppression of someone else, it’s probably not a good method.