I recently came across a new word to describe the reaction of the lower class white voter in the United States who voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump as a whitelash. Political commentators say that it was a reaction to eight years of rule by an Afro-American, who they feel has not done very much for them.


This type of sharp reaction against someone or some action is commonly called a backlash.

 After declaring Itself a nuclear-free zone in the eighties and questioning the presence of nuclear weapons on foreign warships, there was a considerable backlash against New Zealand from the US military, who cut most military ties with their ally.

The new word connects the ideas of race and repercussion very well. The opposite would presumably be a blacklash.  This word doesn’t exist but sounds perfectly feasible.

The huge gains by Trump in low-income white areas, long neglected by politicians, is regarded as a whitelash.

 Another colour word in the news is blackface.


This word refers to the dark-coloured make-up worn by white actors who are pretending to be black people. It derives from the vaudeville era in the United States when white singers and actors would sing songs from the period of slavery. It continued through to the 60’s and 70’s until people finally realised it was really rather racist. As a child I remember seeing a British TV series, The Black and White Minstrel Show with blackfaced actors crooning away to blonde maidens. It seemed so anachronistic as well as racist.

Now British TV has been forced to can a series featuring a white actor, joseph Fiennes, playing Michael Jackson following protests from the singer’s family. Although in the clip I saw, Fiennes still appeared white (as was Michael by the end), journalists have labeled it a case of blackfacing.




2 thoughts on “Whitelash/Blackface

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s