Why You Should Care About Kim Kardashian’s Blackface Incident

81-year-old Austrian entrepreneur Richard Lugner reportedly paid Kim Kardashian and her momager, Kris Jenner, $500,000 to make an appearance with him at the Vienna Opera Ball on Thursday night in Vienna. Lugner is known for paying famous women to attend events with him.

As if this wasn’t weird enough, the situation continued to spiral downward when someone, who was later found to be self-proclaimed stand up comedian Chris Stephan, came up to Kim in blackface pretending to be her fiancé, Kanye West.

Later on, in an interview, a white guest proclaimed that he wanted the orchestra to play “Ni**as in Vienna,” which made Kardashian and Jenner both visibly uncomfortable. Kim also claimed that throughout the event, Lugner grabbed her more than once and also tried to lose her security detail so that he could be alone with her.All of those ridiculous incidents caused Kim to leave the event early, for which Lugner later criticized her publicly because she was “annoying” for not “sticking to the program.”

Jezebel published a blog about the whole ordeal on Friday, Feb. 28 with the title “Kardashian Flees Viennese Ball After Blackface Incident,” and the responses were astonishing. On their post of the blog on their Facebook page, virtually no one commented on the blackface incident or the blatant sexism in the fact that Lugner expected Kim to be alone with him and/or have sexual relations with him.

Instead, (surprise, surprise) there were countless comments condemning Kim for accepting money for an event appearance, which ‘celebrities’ do all of the time.

Many called her an escort (as if that’s an insult), other’s a prostitute (again, insult?), and then went on rants about how sex work isn’t real work. Every so often, someone would comment on how disgusting it was that none of the others commenting were even touching on the blackface issue, but besides that, I had started to lose hope.

I don’t have any personal interest in Kim Kardashian, her life, career or affairs, but I think this situation is important for everyone. Whenever something like this happens to a celebrity, it’s an important lesson for those of us who are not celebrities.

The fact that this racist incident happened to Kim Kardashian and inadvertently Kanye West speaks to the fact that no one is immune from racism, even those of a higher socio-economic status.

There has been a ton of backlash against the use of blackface in recent time, but that doesn’t mean it has disappeared. The use of blackface in regards to Trayvon Martin is especially disgusting considering the nature of it, but the use of blackface at all is deplorable. Blackface is rooted in historical views of black people as of lesser value than white people. It is still used to dehumanize black people and turn them–and often potentially serious incidents–into the butt of a ridiculous, unnecessary, unwarranted and tastelessly offensive joke for white people’s entertainment.

The same principle applies to the sexism that Kardashian experienced from Lugner when she was just doing her job. Yes. She was doing her job. Whether or not it angers you that Kim Kardashian earned more money than most of us do in a decade just being someone’s arm candy doesn’t mean it was any less of a job. And this is a similar experience to women everywhere.

How often are women harassed on the job? How often are unwanted sexual advances made toward them? And of those sexual advances, how many are dismissed as normal and acceptable behavior by others, leaving the woman to be blamed?

Now, this isn’t to say that the issues of a working class woman are the same as those of Kim Kardashian. These all happen on different scales, and while Kim may have had the opportunity to pick up and walk away from the incident, working class women can’t just get up and walk away from their job. This is obviously dependent on many factors, but the concept remains the same.

While Kim Kardashian’s situation is fundamentally different because of her socio-economic status, this is an important look into the reality that racism and sexism penetrate through to every part of society.

 

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