On Wednesday’s edition of 1A on National Public Radio, guests discussed “yellowface.” From the website yellow-face.com:
Yellowface is another example of the racism prevalent in American culture. Yellowface means more than a white person wearing make-up to look Asian. It also describes the systematic bias against hiring real Asians to play Asian roles shown by white producers, directors, and others who control the depiction of Asians in popular culture through casting decisions and the propagation of racist Asian stereotypes and caricatures.
The guests on the radio program focused on the above example, the famous Chinese tea dance from The Nutcracker. The segment was called racist, leaving dancers uncomfortable and feeling microaggressions.
There’s a campaign underway urging ballet companies across the United States to alter the makeup, choreography, and costuming for the Chinese tea dance in their Nutcracker productions. Several troupes have already agreed to do so (The Milwaukee Ballet was not mentioned).
You can listen to the entire 1A program here with guests New York City Ballet soloist Georgina Pazcoguin and arts administrator and activist, and former dancer Phil Chan.