White Washing

The term white washing takes a critical look at the practices of the theater and film industry. It refers to the casting of Black characters or characters of color with white actors. Shakespeare’s Othello may serve as an example: premiered in 1604 with an all-male cast, the main character is blackfaced. This practice was increasingly criticized in the second half of the 20th century, but it has not completely disappeared to this day. White washing also includes altering historical narratives with Black protagonists or protagonists of color in such a way that they are contextualized as white and can accordingly be portrayed by white actors, as shown, for example, in the film Ghost in a Shell (2017). The concept of white washing is thus linked to a critique of racism, because people of non-white race are deliberately disadvantaged and made invisible.