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Irish store apologises after staff member uses blackface for Black Friday video

The ill-advised video caused uproar online
(Smyths Homevalue)

A family-run hardware store in Ireland has apologised after a member of staff appeared in a promotional video for the business with his skin painted black.

Smyths Homevalue, a business based in Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, initially posted the clip on its Facebook page. The video was meant to promote the store’s Black Friday discounts and features a white man, dressed all in black and with his skin covered in what appears to be black paint, discussing the “serious deals” on offer. In the full video the man waggles his tongue at the camera before and after speaking.

Blackface is widely considered racist and is associated with 19th century minstrel shows in the US, which featured white actors dressing up as black characters. These produced discriminatory portrayals of African Americans and created the Jezebel and Uncle Tom stereotypes, among others.

“We would like to sincerely apologise to anyone upset or offended by our recent video post,” Smyths Homevalue said in a statement. “While naive on our part, we in no way intended to impersonate or insult anyone based on their race, however on reflection we can see how it would be perceived that way and for that we are very sorry.”

The original clip was met with horror on social media. “What the hell, you could not make this stuff up,” wrote one Twitter user. “Racism in Ireland alive and well”.

“You cannot post a blackface video to social media in 2018,” said another. “Shame on @smythsHomevalue.”

The original video has now been removed from the store’s Facebook page.