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Columnists rip Torres for Jay-Z costume

Nov 1, 2011, 2:50 PM EDT

For those of you who can’t get enough of the Raffi Torres costume controversy, here are a couple of opinion pieces from prominent newspaper columnists, each of whom has come down hard on Torres for dressing up as Jay-Z, face paint and all.


First there’s Bruce Arthur of the National Post.

Blackface, of course, is freighted with meaning. From the 1830s to the civil rights era, it was used to lampoon, dehumanize, and degrade black people, primarily in the United States. [Al] Jolson was one of its most famous practitioners, but there were many, with minstrel shows that stretched into the 1950s and ’60s. It’s essentially analogous to the Confederate Flag – it’s a symbol of racism and oppression to a lot of people, even as others insist it does not harm.

Arthur concedes that Torres didn’t use “the shoe polish Al Jolson used to wear,” but Torres still “painted himself to look like an African American. And historically, that carries a weight.”

The second condemnation comes courtesy Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times, who focussed much of his wrath on the Phoenix Coyotes for defending Torres:

It’s ridiculous that a team would endorse a historically insensitive gesture at a team function while competing in a league where a player who recently shouted a homophobic slur went unpunished.

And it’s even more ridiculous that a team would promote an environment where such behavior is apparently so acceptable that one of Torres’  teammate felt it appropriate to show it to the world.

That this team is located in Phoenix, home of the infamous anti-immigration legislation, is just coincidental, isn’t it?

I don’t expect we’ll be hearing a whole lot more about this, as the world has bigger problems, but it sure did stir up a hornet’s nest, didn’t it?

Maybe Torres should play it safe and dress up as Powder next year.

  1. imleftcoast - Nov 1, 2011 at 2:58 PM

    Pretty weak shot by the LA Times. Maybe if Bill had done some research he’d have noted that Torres would likely be a target of that ‘infamous anti-immigration legislation’ as a person of Mexican heritage. It’s also curious to cite the ‘infamous anti-immigration legislation’ in a story about black racism when Obama, the first black President, is responsible for deporting a record number of Mexicans.

  2. sippindasyzurp - Nov 1, 2011 at 3:12 PM

    Wow.. Times must be tough in journalism right now, if we are still talking about this NON-issue today… I can’t believe some of these losers with the “Times” and “National Post” actually have jobs writing articles for these papers.

  3. trbowman - Nov 1, 2011 at 4:46 PM

    Hahaha, not surprised this is coming from a moron like Plaschke. Anybody who is bothered by this, wash the sand out of your ***

  4. billyhoyle4real - Nov 1, 2011 at 5:29 PM

    @ imleftcoast…
    That was pretty great.
    Now I’m going to make taco tuesday happen in my kitchen.

  5. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Nov 1, 2011 at 5:43 PM

    If Torres is anything like me he barely learned Canadian history in school, let alone American history. Why do all these self-righteous columnists expect him to know all the racist undertones his choice of a costume entails? He’s a hockey player, not a diplomat, let it go already

    • galuple - Nov 1, 2011 at 5:55 PM

      Exactly. In Canada we don’t learn about American history, so this blackface thing is completely unknown to us. I never even knew that it was a thing until I took American history in college. As this poster above me said, how was Torres expected to know the historical connotations of dressing up as Jay Z?

      • galuple - Nov 1, 2011 at 5:57 PM

        And it’s not like he was dressing up as a stereotypical blackface minstrel with bright red lips and running around munching on watermelon, grape soda, and cornbread.

      • merchaholic - Nov 2, 2011 at 8:38 AM


  6. nhlbruins90 - Nov 2, 2011 at 12:42 AM

    Columnists need to get a life, and a brain.

  7. schnaidt20 - Nov 4, 2011 at 2:27 PM

    Who gives a shit about this?!?!?! Torres dressed up as Jay Z. Michael Jackson dressed as a white woman his whole life…

    On a serious note though this is really dumb… The guy dressed up as a famous person. Who gives a shit. Can a black person not dress up as a white person either? This is why racism is still around people!!! Stop making a big deal of NOTHING! ITS A FUCKING COSTUM!!!

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