The Science Behind Blackface and Cooning- What We All Should know!

Recently my organization Freedom First International lead a Chicago Boycott against the Fashion Giant Gucci due to the fact that Gucci faced a firestorm after selling a sweater that closely resembles blackface (below). The luxury label issued a swift apology and immediately pulled the design off its shelves. In the wake of the firestorm.
but In today’s modern age most people won’t understand or even don’t accept terms like “cooning” or juggaboo or even why some people believe that blackface is a innocent friendly joke! It is with this statement in mind that one must recall the historical “racist”  roots of Blackface and the deep association with cooning. 
For example,-Historically-The first minstrel shows were performed in 1830s New York by white performers with blackened faces (most used burnt cork or shoe polish) and tattered clothing who imitated and mimicked enslaved Africans on Southern plantations. These performances always characterized blacks as lazy, ignorant, superstitious, hypersexual, and prone to thievery and cowardice. 
minstrel_posterbillyvanware_edit_2 (1)
Billy Van, the monologue comedian, 1900. This image is available from the United States Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID var.1831
Thomas Dartmouth Rice, known as the “Father of Minstrelsy,” developed the first popularly known blackface character, “Jim Crow” in 1830. By 1845, the popularity of the minstrel had spawned an entertainment sub-industry, manufacturing songs and sheet music, makeup, costumes, as well as a ready-set of stereotypes upon which to build new performances.
While simultaneously “Black talent at the time of Great Depression of the 1930’s worsened the already bleak economic situation of African Americans. They were the first to be laid off from their jobs, and they suffered from an unemployment rate two to three times that of whites.
In early public assistance programs African Americans often received substantially less aid than whites, and some charitable organizations even excluded blacks from their soup kitchens.
Hollywood historically was not immune to the racist stereotypes often paying white-face actors to pay black roles as Jim Crow laws where ideas about innate racial inferiority and superiority were the grounds for segregation.
Even when black actors where cast they where normally subject to subversive roles like, slaves, maids or thieves who often epitomized the mumbling, shuffling, buck-eyed buffoon who acted like he didn’t know his/her ass from a hole in the ground.
Today’s examples; of the continued tradition of blackface can explained as a continuation of ignorant stereotypes. A more precise example can be found when we look at the tradition and definition of cooing at the Urban Dictionary:
Cooning is a verb derived from the word coon. A coon was/is a person of African decent whose sole purpose was/is to entertain white people. These ‘coons’ started out as wearing black face, characterized by having big eyes and painting big red lips on their face. These people would tap dance, play instruments and sing. 

Cooning is someone is acting like a ‘coon’.
(a is singing and dancing in public with white people watching) 

Modern day coons are blacks who play stereotypical roles that promote ignorance.  For example Blacks may inadvertently still carry the negative mental legacy of slavery. I think we really need to address the things that hold us back. For example, many in the African American community spend $400 million annually, but they believe they’re poor and powerless because they’ve been conditioned to think that way.”  


The Secret of Selling the Negro Market (1954)”  gained more than 7 million views on a site called 1 Million Africans: The Trilogy.  Exploitative film was suppose to be key in time teaching people to keep black people slaves to consumerism. But -to be clear, it was a completely self-serving effort made in the 1950’s most creepy portal at laying out the case for advertising directly to Negroes.

The film had two very real impacts. It ushered in a shift of the use of blacks in advertising from objects to targeted subjects. Suddenly, nannies became party hostesses, and shuffling butlers became sweater-wearing Dads who relaxed at home with a pipe and a martini.

While the ongoing Gucci saga plays our over the course of the next few weeks or days, in truth Black America must began to understand its own buying power is also its social power.

We must finally realize who, what, where and how we fit into the foundation of American and International Capitalism and why we must make efforts to further control our own destiny, by the way-you know who you are so-PLEASE STOP COONIN! (GLG)






Gregg L. Greer a Public Speaker, Pastor, Social Scientist, and the Editor of the One World internet journal. Greer is the Founder of Freedom FirstInternational a human rights NGO, also Black America World News. Greer has written extensively about American politics, civil rights, and the intersection of social justice and politics. Greer is the Founder of Black America World News.  His stories have also appeared in The Huffington Post, CNN.Greer writes commentary on Apolitical America, MSNBC Online and others.  Listen to his radio podcast at OneWorld Talks -if you are interested in interviews  from him and others of the brightest minds today, you can email him at His website is


One World Talks Logo