When it comes to wearing blackface, roughly one-in-three Americans believe it’s “always or sometimes” acceptable — so long as its part of a Halloween costume, according to a new Pew Research survey.
White adults are “about twice as likely” as black adults to approve the act, with 39 percent of those polled saying it’s okay for a white person to use makeup to darken their skin when dressing up as a member of a different race, the center says.
Only 19 percent of black respondents felt the same way.
For its survey, Pew polled more than 3,300 people from Jan. 22 to Feb. 5 — “almost entirely” before Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s yearbook scandal broke.
Numerous politicians and public figures have come under fire since then for wearing blackface when they were younger, including Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, another Democrat from Virginia.
Northam has been fighting off calls to resign from both sides of the aisle over a photo that was published on his medical school yearbook page, showing a person in blackface and another in a KKK regalia. He has repeatedly claimed that he’s not in the pic and told reporters he won’t be stepping down.
Northam later admitted, however, during a press conference that he darkened his skin once to resemble Michael Jackson during a 1984 dance contest.
“I had the shoes, I had a glove, and I used just a little bit of shoe polish to put under my — or on my — cheeks,” he said at the Feb. 2 presser. “And the reason I used a very little bit is because, I don’t know if anybody’s ever tried that, but you cannot get shoe polish off.”
According to Pew, a “slight majority” of Americans (53 percent) think it’s “generally unacceptable” for a white person to use blackface, even if it’s for a Halloween costume.
Thirty-four percent of those polled last month said they believe it’s perfectly fine, with Republicans serving as the majority (51 percent).
“By contrast, a majority of Democrats and Democratic leaners (67 percent) say blackface is not acceptable, with about half saying it’s never acceptable,” Pew researchers explained Monday in their survey report. “Black and white Democrats hold similar views on this.”
Hispanics, meanwhile, fell in the middle — with 28 percent saying it is “always or sometimes” acceptable to wear blackface on Halloween.
The Pew survey is ultimately part of a larger study, which is set to be released later this year and will focus on issues related to race, ethnicity and identity.
In addition to blackface, respondents were asked whether it’s ever “acceptable” for someone to don “traditional dress from a country or culture other than their own” as part of a Halloween costume. Roughly six-in-ten Americans (58 percent) said it is “always or sometimes acceptable,” while about a quarter (27 percent) said they though it was “rarely or never acceptable.”