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White Like Me

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"There's a white man talking up here! ¡Silencio! Oongawah!"
Chuck Taylor (yelling into a booing multi-ethnic crowd during the racial draft), Chappelle's Show
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Similar to Black Like Me except usually played strictly for laughs as a black character pretends to be white. Generally, a very hip black male pretends to be a very straight, lame white male.

Not related to the book, which is a personal story about white privilege.

Contrast Black Like Me. Compare and contrast Blackface.


Examples:

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    Comic Books 
  • During the Armor Wars storyline, Jim Rhodes, a black man, impersonated Electro in order to infiltrate The Vault in order to help Iron Man neutralize the Guardsman armors that used his technology. Max Dillon is white, so Rhodey had to wear makeup over the exposed part of his face, and then quietly pray to himself that a brother didn't catch him removing the costume and makeup.

    Comic Strips 
  • A Tank McNamara arc involved the "token white" on a major basketball team: terrible at the game, but they kept him because he might give hope to white children that someday they might be able to play pro basketball. Then his teammates decided he'd gone too long without a shower ... and his whiteness washed off.... When Tank interviewed him, and asked if the deception had been tough, he exclaimed, "God, man, you pretend to like The Beach Boys for six years..."
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    Films — Live-Action 

    Literature 
  • In The Newest Plutarch, Esteban Ligeiro's "Ligeiro Albino", a chemical for turning black people white. First, there was a lot of controversy, then it turned out there are side effects... then it turned out to be temporary.
  • Played for Drama in After the Revolution. Roland, a black man with his body full of advanced military cybernetic hardware due to a stint in the US Army during the Second American Civil War, has amongst his more special body modifications some implants that allows him to drastically alter his appearance. When recruited for infiltration and rescue mission alongside Manny, a local fixer, into the heavily right-wing and extremist Christian insurgent theocracy of the Heavenly Kingdom, Roland disguises himself as a white man. This only serves to strengthen Roland's contempt for the Kingdom and its adherents, as he notices that while he flies under the radar, Manny, being of Hispanic descent, is near constantly subjected to varying degrees of racism by the inhabitants, both of the casual and the more serious kind.
  • In The Story of Doctor Dolittle, African prince Bumpo agrees to help the Doctor in exchange for making him white (he had earlier tried to kiss a sleeping princess, but she was racist and rejected him for being black). The doctor does the best he can, but it doesn't last long, and Bumpo is back to normal by the next book.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Whoopi Goldberg pulled a similar stunt during one of her hosting of the Academy Awards, where she came dressed and madeup as Queen Elizabeth I and called herself "The African Queen".
  • Any time Dave Chappelle plays/impersonates/imitates a white person, it's always in the same calm monotone that says "I have nothing exciting about me because I'm extra vanilla." Chuck Taylor, the white news anchor that Chappelle plays on his show, gets physically whiter and whiter with every appearance. In his final appearance in one of the Lost Episodes (pictured above), he's literally white.
  • Eddie Murphy did this for the first time in an old Saturday Night Live short where, with the help of a good make-up artist, he discovered that white people regularly give stuff to each other for free. All the time. It ends with him with several of friends undergoing the make-up process "to continue this strange education."
  • Scrubs:
    • An episode had an Imagine Spot where Turk (Donald Faison) portrayed a white insurance salesman "Cal Turk".
      Cal Turk: Here at Cal Turk, we don't just sell insurance, we sell peace of mind. But only to white people. [beat] Would you like some milk?
    • Another episode had a flashback to Turk and J.D.'s student days in which they were going to an African-American fraternity with Turk in whiteface and a visibly uncomfortable J.D. in blackface. Turk assured J.D. that as long as they were both there, the fraternity would get the gag, but then spotted a hot girl and ditched J.D. at the last second to go talk to her, meaning the black fraternity members answered the door to just J.D. in blackface and were not pleased.
  • A series of sketches on Lenny Henry: Live and Unleashed had Henry, not just in whiteface, but in a very convincing latex Steve Martin mask. At one point he rips it off while explaining "Inside every funky white man, there's an even funkier black man trying to get out!"
  • One episode of 30 Rock sees Tracy and Jenna betting to see if living as a black man in America is harder than living as a white woman in America, with Tracy donning white makeup and a dress to try and live a white woman's life (Jenna, meanwhile, puts on blackface and engages in Modern Minstrelsy, which Toofer quickly calls her out on). Eventually, both Tracy and Jenna each declare the other the winner of the bet.
  • Lovecraft Country: Ruby takes on a white appearance and name thanks to Williams' magic, enjoying how much easier life is for her in that guise.
  • Key & Peele has a skit called "Das Negros" in which two Black Men in Nazi Germany wear whiteface and try and act white to fool an SS officer hunting for "Das Negros". There are also several skits in which they play characters who are white, including Rednecks and Eastern European spy villains, though without any makeup.
  • Played for Drama in Watchmen (2019), as Will Reeves dons whiteface around his eyes and spouts pro-Nazi rhetoric he knows is false to fully get into character as Hooded Justice.

    Music 
  • French rapper Kamini (who's of Zairian/Congolese descent) has made a song and a video clip titled "J'suis blanc" ("I'm white"), where God turns him white. He finds quite a few advantages to the situation... except for the size of something between his legs.
  • Zigzagged in Frank Zappa's "You Are What You Is", featuring a young Caucasian who starts singing the blues, talking in an exaggerated African-American dialect, eats chitlins, and uses Royal Crown pomade in his hair. By contrast, the young African-American stopped eating such soul foods as pork and greens, traded his dashiki for designer jeans, plays golf, and drives a Mercedes-Benz, acting like a white yuppie.
  • Michael Jackson was accused of doing this in Real Life. While it's undeniable that his skin tone started getting lighter around the mid-1980s or so and kept getting lighter for the rest of his life, the cause is a little disputed. General consensus is that he suffered from vitiligo, a skin condition where parts of his skin suddenly lose their pigment. He dealt with this first by covering the light patches with dark foundation to match the rest of his skin, but as the disease progressed this became too difficult, so he resorted to using light foundation and then eventually straight up removing his remaining pigment with creams and injections. But there were persistent rumors that Jackson was ashamed of his blackness and trying to whitewash himself — rumors that Jackson quite resented, having always identified as black and proud of it. The rumormongers also claim that Jackson got cosmetic surgery to remove his "black" facial features, and while he did get a lot of cosmetic surgery, a lot of it was to fix actual medical problems.note 
  • The song "If I was White" by rapper Sticky Fingaz. Bonus points for featuring Eminem on the hook.
  • Eminem's imitation of Jackson in the music video of "Just Lose It" from Encore.
  • Chamillionaire played a dual role as a white newsreader in his follow-up songs "Hip Hop Police" and "The Evening News".

    Web Videos 
  • In The Nostalgia Critic, Malcolm once has to disguise as a white man in order to escape from a Genre Savvy Nostalgia Critic turned insane because of the miniseries based on Stephen King's The Shining. Thankfully, Malcolm manages to avoid being another victim of the Black Dude Dies First trope, by putting on a rather impressive disguise with blonde wig, white shirt... he even reads a purely white book and listens to Wrecking Ball! Now that's dedication. In the behind-the-scenes, he was the only one not laughing at it and said he didn't know how to make it not offensive.
  • Singer and talk show host Lexi Allen does this in numerous videos, such as White Church vs. Black Church.
  • YouTuber iSekC does this in his Justin Bieber eats his own poop video that has over 30 million views and has been a great conversation starter at elementary school lunches all across the globe since 2010.
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    Real Life 
  • This incident in 2013 involved two African-American bank robbers disguising themselves as white cops using Latex Perfection-style silicone masks of "handsome" white bald guys.
  • Can happen unintentionally in the case of vitiligo, which causes affected individuals to lose all the melanin in their skin, resulting in them looking freakishly white. The above-mentioned Michael Jackson is probably the most famous case of this, if only due to his own high public profile, but it was well-documented even before Jackson stopped trying to retain his darker complexion, with the disease becoming a major source of dysphoria and discrimination among African-Americans and other people with naturally darker skin tones.
  • Baseball player Sammy Sosa's skin complexion gradually became lighter and lighter starting in 2009, first making itself visible at an awards show that year before eventually leading to an infamous interview spot where he looked like a bottle of Pepto Bismol. While many speculated that his lightening skin color was the result of steroid abuse, body dysphoria, or vitiligo (this being long after Jackson's battle with the disease became well-known), Sosa denied all of these rumors and explained that it was an unintended side effect of a nightly skin-softening cream he used.

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