Network Faces Backlash After Putting White Woman In ‘Brownface’ To Appear Muslim

Source: Huffington Post

By Carol Kuruvilla

A U.K. television program’s attempt to shed light on Islamophobia is proving controversial ― with some critics claiming that the show’s tactics amount to “brownface.”

“My Week As A Muslim,” which aired on Channel 4 this Monday, follows the journey of a white woman named Katie Freeman. As part of a social experiment, Freeman is immersed into a Pakistani Muslim family in Manchester who lived just a few miles away from her own home.

While the purpose was to start a conversation about Islamophobia, the documentary has been criticized for its methods. In order to go “undercover” in her neighborhood, Freeman’s skin was darkened, and she was given a prosthetic nose, fake teeth, and brown contact lenses. She also donned a long, flowing robe and covered her head with a scarf.

The racist origins of blackfacebrownface, and other costumes stemming from cultural appropriation are well documented. The impulse to assume another ethnic group’s features often results in exaggerated, inaccurate, and even harmful stereotypes.

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