Nick “White Face” Cannon’s Racial Rap Joke Bombs. Should We Care?


April 3, 2014 by gregrabidoux2013

Nick Cannon normal pic

Nick Cannon with a necklace he borrowed from wife Mariah Carey in his non-white face make-up


Let’s face it, painting your face black if you are white, or white if you are black does not equal uproarious laughter. Maybe I just don’t get “it” but my racist radar immediately gets activated. Why, I ask, would someone, translation, an entertainer, a celebrity, go this risky route? Because the pay-off is almost always never worth the backlash. Okay, never.

Ted Danson of Cheers and now CSI fame, painted his white face black and did a “soft shoe” routine at an awards dinner a few years back. At the time he was dating comedienne/actress Whoopi Goldberg (The View) who as you may know is African-American. Brave. Bold. Daring? Nope. Ted’s moment as an old time Black minstrel entertainer bombed. He’s lucky he got off the stage in one piece.

Ted danson white face

Ted Danson of pre-CSI fame finding out that it is, after all, just not funny.


Many years ago, singer Al Jolson, a Caucasian, used to paint his face black and wow his white crowds on stages and nightclubs. You may be thinking why? What is the point in “pretending” to be black?

al jolson face pic

Al Jolson, a white singer who always performed in black-face. Maybe it’s a pre-internet thing.


Well, in the late 1800s and early 1900s our nation was in the racist and discriminatory throes of what was called the “Jim Crow Laws.” The name is from old time vaudeville shows where (you guessed it) white entertainers would paint their face black (apparently, like a black crow) and dance and sign more in the style of black entertainers. Because the “Jim Crow” laws were simply a sobriquet for segregation based on color, blacks were simply not permitted to entertain in white venues and vice-versa.

So, at the very bottom-line of what is already a practice scraping the bottom, when any celebrity pulls out the old face-painting gimmick it comes with a whole lot of racist and segregationist baggage.

In Mariah Carey’s boy-toy of a husband’s case, Nick claims the whole adventure was merely an ironic twist to promote his new album. Entitled “White People Party Music,” it is supposedly an anti-rap-rap album. The “America’s Got Talent” host, also claims that if you listen to the album his alter-ego (Connor Smallnut, a typical white guy) disdains cuss words and too-loud music. You know, just like every white guy and gal.


Nick, you ain’t even close to being the real slim shady


Besides the inherently bad taste and simmering racism of such a stunt (regardless of who pulls it) the real irony here is that it is predominantly white not black consumers who continue to support the largely black rap music industry with their hard-earned dollars. For every legitimate White rapper like Eminem (no, sorry not you Vanilla Ice) there are about 1,000 legitimate Black rappers. Music sales run counter.

vanilla ice pic

But I do have a white-face and still, nothing. I just don’t get it.


Mr. Cannon now asserts that only those with no sense of humor and closet-racists don’t support his white-face schtick.

Well, I am neither of those and the only face-painting I support is the type found at carnivals and fairs for consumers under age 10.

Adults of all colors or non-colors really should know better by now.

Besides, if I want to buy any music from the Cannon-Carey household it will be Mariah who indeed “has talent” and who, to my knowledge, has never had to resort to face-painting gimmicks to sell her albums.

mariah carey

It’s okay, I have enough talent for the whole family.


Maybe Nick’s new album should just be put on Ice, Ice, Baby.



51 thoughts on “Nick “White Face” Cannon’s Racial Rap Joke Bombs. Should We Care?

  1. LaQuisha M says:

    WTFreak…You are right, this is never funny. Mostly stupid and a little bit, maybe a lot, racist.

  2. Erik C says:

    I think that the whole ” white face thing was stupid anyway.It was just something that made fun of black people and humiliated them even more then they were before. It is completely racist.

  3. Dominique E says:

    I honestly do not believe that it is okay for a black person to do “white face” but when a white person does a “black face” it counts as racist. But he’s married to a “white face”, Mariah Carey, so he obviously isn’t as racist as many people are claiming. I really believe it’s just a double standard, which isn’t fair. Life isn’t fair though, so get over it and live.

  4. Wade M says:

    I really do not understand the humor in this scenario. I agree that it is stupid and whether the intention is racist or not, the perception is definitely there.

  5. Davon M says:

    i really cant see where nick cannon was going with the whole face painting thing for his new album. i’m pretty sure his team of advisers could had thought of something better than the pretty much start a controversy.hes more likely doing this for some attention since his very beautiful wife is the one with the talent for the family, but maybe he just wants to start back in his music career back up. Hopefully he can think of a non racist way to do it then maybe ill listen to it.

  6. Jasmine C says:

    I don’t think the he needed the face painting gimmick to sell his album. More importantly, why is he coming out with an album anyway. Dude, you have like a hundred other jobs that you are more successful in. Please, i understand the pressure to be a powerhouse couple like jay-z and beyonce. But it’s fine because you are nick cannon and your wife is mariah carey. Act like you know. Please dont be immature now!

    • Jasmine-that is a GREAT point…I hadn’t thought of that, but yes, I can easily see Nick wanting to be in the same league as Beyoncé and Jay-Z, but, painting your face white ain’t gonna get the job done!

  7. Kirshana C says:

    I am not really understanding where the humer was suppose to be in his stunt. It seems a bit weird to me. I mean I understand that he does have a white wife but still that should still process in his mind that a lot of people would take offense to his joke. He should probably stick to his other jobs like hosting America’s got Talent.

  8. Letarius H says:

    I didn’t think it was such a big deal, especially in today’s time where a Halloween costume is pretending to be a different race. This is just another silly issue that people focus on rather than important issues.

    • I guess the difference is that it’s not Halloween…And the white face and CD is meant to stereotype white people, in their choice of music and to reinforce stereotypes of black males. That’s the whole point behind his CD, or so it seems. As far as not focusing on important issues, well take a look at my recent blog on Cuba-US relations, see what you think… 🙂

  9. Victoria H says:

    I personally think that there was no need in painting his face white. People who bought his album were going to buy it even if his face wasn’t painted. I didn’t even know that he had a new album out or that he still even recorded albums. For publicity, he got his name out there again, and that’s probably the only reason that he even painted his face.

  10. Karissa S says:

    Our society has such a double standard it isn’t even funny. A white person doesn’t agree with anyone who is in the minority is called a racist. But if it’s the other way around, they cheer them on or ignore it. I’m glad that the public is calling him out on this and I totally agree with the statement “Well, I am neither of those and the only face-painting I support is the type found at carnivals and fairs for consumers under age 10.”

  11. Austin says:

    I would like to mention that everyone that has done this and made news was Stars, what about everyone else who does this everyday? just for the fun of it. I agree with Victoria if Someone was gonna buy the album they would have. To paint your face is dumb and can be taken racist. This CD is very stereo type like. Im not a fan of it, he needs to just be the announcer on America’s Got Talent and leave the rest to Mariah.

  12. Tyler W says:

    My first thought if i saw a black guy paint his face white I would think of Michael Jackson. He tried to bleach himself white back in the day. I would also see how this could come off as racist but you would really have to want to call him a racist. I believe he is just using this as a marketing tactic and trying to sell his album. And yes, I do agree that Mariah is the better singer of the two.

  13. K. Reigene M says:

    after reading several articles and watching a few of his interviews, Nick is only doing this to get back in the lime light and the simple fact that he is bored . So in his case he is getting you to do exactly what he wants you to do, which is talking bout him. To me Nick, as he stated, does not care about his rap career and does not take it seriously, and he believes other rappers do not either, so he is making fun of them with this. As of bringing race into. Him doing this still shows that racism still exist because if you read some of the articles they are very racist and are blaming blacks and or whites for everything. Ignorance has no color by the way.

    • It sounds like you are asserting that Mr. Cannon was bored so he decided to paint his face white, develop an alter-ego named Connor Smallnut and then made “music for white people” all I guess because he was bored. IDK still doesn’t make sense to me. Sounds more like a manipulative and cynical attempt by Cannon to play on what he knows is laden with racial baggage to his benefit. Pathetic if you ask me.

  14. Takym V. says:

    This action is very unprofessional and shocking to me to hear he committed this action. I think he lost a lot of people’s respect with this action and has to do a lot to earned it back.

  15. Gabrielle R says:

    Personally, I think that the whole idea of the painting your face is absurd. It is very racist and childish coming from white or black people. In Nick Cannon’s case I believe that he is being over dramatic in trying to promote his new album this way. Honestly i think this is more of a downfall for his album than a help. People will not see this as funny or a joke and make hinder people from buying his album all together.

  16. Scarlett Taylor says:

    Nick Cannon needs to stick to T.V. His music career has never been anything but a joke and this time it isn’t funny. It isn’t funny when a white person pretends they are black so I’m not sure why he would think it would be funny the other way around. It is disrespectful and ignorant.

  17. Jameeka M says:

    I agree with what you said at the beginning, “Let’s face it, painting your face black if you are white, or white if you are black does not equal uproarious laughter”. I think Nick Cannon is funny sometimes and I don’t think he meant no harm by it. But it should have thought about the negative consequences before doing it. If it was vice versa I’m pretty sure he would have had a problem with it. Nick isn’t a racist because he married to Mariah n she is mixed and their kids are mixed.

  18. Rebecca C says:

    I don’t think that Nick Cannon was meaning to be racist, but he is a famous figure who does not have that much attention in today’s pop culture and he just wanted to stir up some trouble to receive attention. Maybe he just wanted to get his name back out there. However, I do find is very racist no matter what party does it, but I don’t believe that was Nick’s intention. But then again, nobody knows.

  19. LaMoya N says:

    As I was reading this blog, I did not find it funny that individuals were painting their faces to look like another race as a joke. My honest opinion is that face make-up should be left to the clowns for birthday parties’. Although I did not find this joke funny, I would not say that any of these individuals were racist. If anything, Nick took a gamble to try to promote his album so that he could make a bigger profit, but, instead, the joke was on him. All of these entertainer’s want to make a bigger profit. With anything they do, it will always be risky. Clearly, he just tried to win and he ended up losing, but seriously look at his wife. Nick Cannon is not racist. I do agree that appears a little immature, but that is all a part of his act. As far as losing individual’s respect, he might lose a few fans but at the end of the day, people will forgive and forget about this little incident as soon as the next big topic comes out. So, my overall opinion is yes he is immature, but racist is not the word that individuals should be looking for to describe him. He is just your typical comedian whom told an unfunny joke.
    Another thing to think about is the fact that a entertainer will not make a joke or anything about another race unless their significant other was in that same race or close to that race.

  20. Taranesha says:

    Personally I don’t see this stunt as “racist”. I do feel ,however, that it is stupid and taking us back to the old days. Seriously, when I first learned about how entertainers used to paint their faces for the Jim Crow Laws I was annoyed. If the only way you can make money is by ridiculing another race then you’re sad. That’s what Nick’s actions made me think of him :Sad. He makes too much money from acting and hosing America;s Got Talent to be doing something as senseless as this. Also, for him to say his alter-ego is a white person who hates rap and curse words is ABSURD! Beyonce’s alter ego (Sasha Fierce) is still Beyonce with a different, more outgoing personality. T.I.’s alter ego (Tip) is him in a more calm and civilized manner. Who changes their alter ego to be another race entirely? I just don’t get what you’re doing here Nick.

  21. cbragg says:

    Personally i believe the only one who should care here would be Nick Cannon because he is only making himself look like a fool. For his alter ego, i can understand where he comes up with that, but his is just so far out there. Maybe he is being satirical because many musicians have done this?

  22. Vander says:

    We can beat this topic to death with all the “double standard” talk. Was it done with the intent of being racist? I doubt it. Has it been taken as racist? Yes. Do I personally care? Not at all. If he wants to make an idiot out of himself, by all means do so. I personally could not care less.

  23. Jazmyn M says:

    i Agree COMPLETELY!! I dont approve of anyone painting face to represent any other race. I as a African American woman dont think its funny and only think that this type of humor opens up a discussion of African American being hypocrites. For those African American who would be offended by a Caucasian painting a black face, I feel it’s only fair that we show the same respect that we’re asking for in return from other races.

  24. Marley B says:

    Nick has proven himself to be a creative individual and is constantly caught up in the latest comedic event. However, this event was neither creative nor comedic. I think that he should stop wasting his time painting his face and start putting quality content on the market. Stereotypes, no matter the target, are not creative. Humans actually need stereotypes in order to quickly organize information about people; therefore, we are all aware of our own stereotyping. Nick would be better off pointing out social issues associated with black/white culture and do it in a comical way. Because his work has no true redeeming value and isn’t funny, the media catagorizes it as racist. If he wiped the paint off and started making music that was relevant, instead of rude, to cultures and races… He might find his own niche.

  25. Jermaine G Jr. says:

    I totally agree with this blog. The face painting minstrels stopped awhile back and should have stayed there. The fact that he was not even thinking that this could have a negative affect on customers and audiences shows he is inconsiderate. Being an African American myself, we often find ourselves stereotyped alot as “thugs” and etc. Every time i hear a stereotype it makes me sick to my stomach just because every African American is not the same, as well as every White American. So the fact that he made that stereotype makes him no better than the people stereotyping his own kind. No matter what kind of stereotype it is, A stereotype is a stereotype! All stereotypes are biased if you ask me. He thought this would be “funny” and reach out to white customers. That’s just stupid. I know plenty of whites that listen to African American music and visa verse. Sometimes people should think more about the things they do and all of the consequences, positive and negative, that might come out of it.

  26. Brittany T says:

    I agree with this article. This is not right for anyone to do , he could promote his album in another way that is funny but does not bring out the barrier of color.

  27. Abigail A says:

    First, I dont get his point in releasing a music album after all he’s got going for him. Second, when it comes to the Cannons, Mariah’s got the music…so stay off the music,Nick! Definitely racist and Nick Cannon should know better. Not a cool way to seek attention!

  28. Y'Keisha says:

    As I was reading this, I was just thinking about Jim Crow Laws before I got to that section about it! It really is sad for a well-known celebrity to be that ridiculous knowing that people are going to feel some type of way about it. People on his comedian show have already been throwing shade about how bad his music is, so I guess he is “trying” to take a newer approach for his music towards another audience, but the way it is going, it will not happen for him and his album. People just need to start thinking about the consequences before they act!

  29. Justin says:

    Honestly, after reading this I was more focused on the fact that he was copying Eminem than the racist aspect. I don’t necessarily think he was intentionally being racist about the painting of his face, but I certainly see how it could offend people. More importantly, back to the Eminem aspect, it’s interesting to me how he “created” an alter ego, paints his face white, and tries to create a lackluster rap album… As a fan of rap music I’m sure it will be something most of us never hear anyways, but in terms of Nick Cannon being a racist… I think not.
    In my opinion, the focus on race and other societal issues is too high on our priority list these days. If this honestly offends people (whether painting white or black faced) to the brink of outrage or riot, they need to get over it. Life goes on, and people are free to their opinion and expression. There’s always going to be racist people and people with no tolerance or open-mindedness, but that’s no reason for you not to move on in life without those peope. Live it up folks.

  30. Jason B says:

    I feel there is nothing wrong with Nick Cannon painting his face white and naming his cd “White People Party Music.” The only issue people have with this cover and cd title is the way it makes them feel (feelings hold no jurisdiction in the court of law, I think). In my opinion, most Caucasians don’t want other Caucasians to know they listen to rap music. If you’re going to target Nick Cannon and call him racist, you might as well do the same for the Wayans brothers. Their movie, White Chicks, was a satirical film about Caucasians which made millions of dollars. What happened to the art of film, music, and entertainment? Everyone is so uptight that they forget to smile and laugh. When Caucasians painted their faces black, it was to perpetuate the ideology of white supremacy by mocking the Negro. Nick Cannon, however, was not being racist. Plus, you’re taught in business that discriminating can cause you to make money. American Eagle intentionally discriminates against full figured women by not carrying clothing in their size. Overall, let’s just let the sales do the talking.

  31. Khari L says:

    Based on today’s rumor the Nick Cannon white face joke was nothing to really to get upset about. The painted face jokes have been going on for decades. His wife Mariah Carey mixed with Cuban, African American, and Irish. People posting about his wife have nothing to do with rather or not the joke is racist. The blog forgot to mention the Eddie Murphy sketch when he posts as a white person the entire day. He was trying to prove how white people had an easier life than any other race. If there was no big deal then it should not matter for today society.

  32. Jarod L says:

    Not a big deal at all, we have to remember Nick started off as a comedian at Nickelodeon, many comedians use this to get laughs. I remember back years ago when Dave Chappel used to do it and it was hilarious for BOTH races. There was no harm in this IMO, no big deal.

    • Hilarious is of course, opinion. Sorry, for me still only face painting that’s cute is kids at the carnival. The rest if Jim Crow stuff that at least for me is not hilarious not even a slight chuckle.

  33. Shantel W says:

    I honestly don’t feel like it’s that big of a deal, many people use racism in their jokes to get a laugh. It’s not that unusual. I just think that some people are throwing it out of proportion.

  34. Chris Henderson says:

    Yeah racism is a touchy subject and for Nick to dive right back into the middle of the racism pool and do that was not smart. You should just leave the racist stuff in the past and try to move on with minimizing racism in today’s environment

  35. RIkesh T says:

    LOL no one should care what Nick Cannon does, no matter what it is. This guy is a joke, not funny, not entertaining, and probably wouldn’t even be a celebrity any longer it it wasn’t for wife.

  36. Alison M. says:

    Nick Cannon’s attempt at being a comedian is completely a joke. This is actually my first time hearing about his Whiteface attempt and it’s irrelevance makes it even less comical. I don’t think Cannon was trying to be racist in his attempt to pretend to be white. But I do believe that he is pushing the boundaries (and not in a good way) with his “white people party music” anti-rap rap album. Being the true hip-hop fan that I am my professional opinion of Connor Smallnuts album is that it will receive little to no success. Alter ego’s aren’t cool, especially with a name like smallnuts. It only really work for people like Beyoncé with her alter ego Shasha fierce. But comparing Cannon to Beyoncé would be unfair. In conclusion I agree with Greg, Mariah Carey may just have enough musical talents for the whole family. Sorry Nick.

  37. Bryan L. says:

    Do we really think this was anything more than a publicity stunt? Entertainers are known for their outlandish and foolish attempts to “stay in the spotlight”. What Cannon did was racist and he knows it, just like all the others who have deemed it necessary to sell their “wares”.

    Unfortunately, racism, like so many other disgusting traits and habits, sells…Who’s at fault for that, the entertainer or the consumer?? Hmmmmm…

  38. Casey H says:

    Doing this is never funny. I assume he did it to get publicity, which he did.. but I don’t think it has done him any favors.

  39. Sherry B says:

    I feel that he made a bad decision and that as an African American male he should have never promoted such behavior. I do feel that is was racist act but this has become the accepted behavior of entertainers,etc.

  40. Kyle B says:

    I don’t feel like face painting was a racist act, but merely a stab at trying to entertain by shock and awe. Unfortunately, race is one of those things in today’s society that you just can’t joke about. I personally don’t take offense to Nick’s stunt, but some white people just might. You never can be sure when planning one of these stunts, and Nick had to take a risk. But in the end, it doesn’t really matter, because Mariah dumped him recently anyways.

  41. Jacki G says:

    I don’t think there was any racism behind this but I do think it was a childish publicity stunt that was unfortunately successful. I haven’t been following Nick Cannon lately and do not know what is on his new album (the title also looks like an attention seeker) but I do not think he is racist. I don’t think this was appropriate or tasteful but I guess that is how some people gain followers and fame. And if Nick is trying to establish he and Mariah on the same level as Beyoncé and JayZ then he is out of his mind. Mariah could be a half of a power couple but Nick Cannon acts like he is still on the Disney channel. Isnt that where he got started?

  42. Autron H says:

    What is good for the geese is good for the gander. I think it is inappropriate whether it is black or white face. Either way no one should be doing it.

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