Drag vs. Blackface: Two distinct performance practices with different histories, intentions, and cultural contexts.

Drag and blackface are two distinct performance practices with different histories, intentions, and cultural contexts.


  1. Drag is a form of performance art in which individuals, often but not exclusively members of the LGBTQ+ community, dress in clothing and makeup associated with a different gender, often for the purpose of entertaining an audience. Drag performers, known as drag queens (when presenting as female) and drag kings (when presenting as male), often create exaggerated and theatrical personas, and their performances may include singing, dancing, lip-syncing, and comedy.
  2. Drag has a long history and is celebrated as an important aspect of LGBTQ+ culture. It has been a way for individuals to explore and express their gender identity, challenge societal norms, and create a sense of community. Drag is often seen as a celebration of diversity and self-expression.
  3. While drag performers may adopt exaggerated characteristics associated with a particular gender, the intention is not to mock or demean that gender. Instead, drag is often about challenging and subverting traditional gender norms and expectations.


  1. Blackface is a practice in which non-Black individuals darken their skin and exaggerate stereotypical physical features to imitate and caricature people of African descent. Blackface has been used in theater, film, and other forms of entertainment.
  2. Blackface has a deeply racist history, particularly in the United States, where it was popularized in the 19th century through minstrel shows. These shows depicted Black people as lazy, ignorant, and buffoonish, reinforcing harmful racial stereotypes and contributing to the dehumanization and marginalization of Black individuals.
  3. Blackface is widely considered to be deeply offensive and racist, and it is not acceptable in contemporary society. It perpetuates harmful stereotypes and is a reminder of a painful history of racial discrimination and oppression.

In summary, drag is a form of performance art that is celebrated within the LGBTQ+ community and is about challenging gender norms and expressing identity. In contrast, blackface is a racist practice that perpetuates harmful stereotypes about Black people and has been used to demean and dehumanize them. While drag is generally accepted and celebrated within its cultural context, blackface is widely condemned and considered deeply offensive.