08:08 AM CST on Tuesday, November 3, 2009
By JEFF MOSIER / The Dallas Morning News
A Dallas Cowboys cheerleader is getting attacked on blogs nationwide for dressing up in blackface at a Halloween party over the weekend.
The sports blog Deadspin posted photos of Whitney Isleib, a Cowboys cheerleader since 2008, dressed as black rapper Lil Wayne. Isleib is white.
"We are aware of the images and we are handling it internally," Cowboys spokesman Brett Daniels said Monday.
Isleib could not be reached for comment Monday.
The photos were posted on Deadspin on Sunday but later taken down. A new post that went up on the Web site Monday had the word "allegedly" added.
The photos appear to have come from the Facebook page of another Cowboys cheerleader.
Isleib's Facebook page had been deleted by Monday.
The photos show Isleib wearing dark makeup, a wig of long braids, a mouth grill, and fake tattoos on her arms and face.
In one photo, she is posing with two black women. Another shows her with two people dressed as mariachi performers with fake mustaches and thick eyebrows.
Some photos also include a man in blackface with a top hat, who appears to be dressed as singer and producer T-Pain.
On Deadspin, a short commentary at the end says: "In this era of political correctness, people who live their lives in the 'public eye,' for lack of a better way of putting it, have to exercise a little more discretion and not upload photos to Facebook that would make Ted Danson blush."
Danson was publicly excoriated in the 1990s after appearing in blackface at a Friars Club roast of Whoopi Goldberg, whom he had dated.
Mark Q. Sawyer, associate professor of political science and African-American studies at the University of California at Los Angeles, said the cheerleader pictures suggest this is more an issue of bad judgment than actual racism. He said that many young people are unaware of the deeply offensive history of blackface performances.
"She probably asked her black friends about it with the idea that they could exonerate her," Sawyer said.
But he said people looking at those photos don't know her and wouldn't look at the pictures in the same context as her friends.
Leslie Picca, a sociology professor at the University of Dayton who has written about racial stereotypes and Halloween costumes, said these kinds of scandals happen frequently, often on college campuses and usually at Halloween or at Martin Luther King Jr. Day parties.
"Part of me wonders if it's sort of the taboo nature, playing with something dangerous," she said. "For some people, they see it as a pass. It's Halloween. It's not meant to be taken seriously."
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