When most people think of JoJo Siwa, they picture an energetic, young girl rocking a high ponytail, a giant bow, and some sort of sparky, multi-colored outfit. Not, you know, someone who would engage in blackface — a practice with a dark, extremely racist past for which celebrities have been getting canceled left and right.
But alas, that’s exactly where the former Dance Moms star seems to have landed herself.
Did JoJo Siwa do blackface?
Although JoJo herself didn’t engage in blackface, many people are upset about one of her music videos because they consider one of her dancer’s costumes to be blackface.
It all started when JoJo’s “NONSTOP” music video was published on June 19 on her YouTube channel. The upbeat song features JoJo as the ringmaster of a circus, complete with other circus animals/sideshow characters dancing with her. (The was a zebra, a lion, a bearded lady, etc.)
Here’s the problem: One of the young, white dancers in JoJo’s video was dressed as a monkey — and her costume included brown makeup on her face.
Over on Twitter and in the YouTube comments section (which has since been turned off,) some users started calling JoJo out for what they declared to be blackface.
“When is @itsjojosiwa going to address the little girl in black face in her latest music video?” one Twitter user wrote.
JoJo addressed the blackface controversy via Instagram.
It didn’t take long for #jojoisoverparty to start trending on Twitter. By the time June 27 rolled around, JoJo decided to take to Instagram to address the reported blackface in her music video.
“I need to set the record straight about a few things because some have been irresponsible in recent stories and posts about me, and everyone seems to rush to conclusions without having all of the facts,” she wrote.
JoJo continued, “I would like to address the music video that we shot for ‘NONSTOP’ in February. We’re talking about kids dressing up as circus animals! No one in my video is wearing blackface. It’s awful that anyone’s mind would even go there. Kids dressing in animal costumes, having their faces painted to look like animals, acting the part. There were zebras, tigers, dogs, clowns, mermaids, everything.”
JoJo went on to voice her support for BLM, which is something she’s done before.
“I’ve addressed Black Lives Matter issues previously on my social media, I will say it again for the ones in the back, Black Lives Matter, today, tomorrow, yesterday and forever. I’m on the right side of history here,” she concluded. “Stop trying to make this about something it isn’t.”
Intentionally or not, JoJo Siwa’s “NONSTOP” music video has clearly upset plenty of people. It’s worth pointing out that the singer was surrounded by adults who could have, at many points, stopped and thought, “Hmm, maybe we should rethink putting brown makeup on a white girl dressed as a monkey; this is problematic.” Yet, they didn’t.
At the end of the day, it’s JoJo’s name and face that are associated with the video. But perhaps the critics could lay off the 17-year-old just a bit — and instead shift some of blackface blame to the adults involved.