Target: Elk City, Oklahoma mayoral candidate Bill Helton
Goal: End mayoral campaign of racist, blackface-wearing white man.
Bill Helton has been putting on performances in blackface for years at community events and fundraisers in Elk City, Oklahoma—now, he wants to be mayor. A white person who sees nothing wrong with this kind of act has no place being in a position of power. Demand that he cancel his candidacy for mayor at once.
Since 2005, Helton has been performing as his character “Pollyester Kotton” at fundraising events. An integral part of his act of the character, who he says was inspired by an African American client he had at his day job as a hair stylist, is the donning of makeup that makes him appear black. After being confronted about this racist practice, Helton apologized if anyone was offended by it, but denied claims that it was bigoted or that he was racist for doing it. “I don’t see myself as being racist, I’ve got great, great friends who are African American,” he told local media.
Blackface is just as racist now as it was when it first gained popularity during the 1800s when black people were forced to live as slaves. This needs to be recognized and acknowledged, especially by those who hope to become elected public officials—Helton apparently refuses to do this, so he has no business being a leader. Sign the petition below to demand that Helton cancel his candidacy for Elk City mayor.
Dear Mr. Helton,
I am writing you today regarding the controversy that has recently been stirred up around your blackface character, “Pollyester Kotton.” Your refusal to recognize why your performance of this character is problematic is disturbing.
Blackface is racist. It has always been racist. It has always been used as a tool of oppression against African Americans, from the time it was first used all the way through to today. It propagates offensive stereotypes about black people and maintains a system of white supremacy. It simply cannot be used in a benign way. You seem to disagree with these facts, however, claiming that your character is “just satire.”
Your act does not exist in a vacuum. A person who lacks the social consciousness to acknowledge that their behavior can be racist has no place being in charge of Elk City. I demand that you abandon your candidacy for mayor at once.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Brian0918 via Wikimedia Commons