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Helen Sullivan


24 December 2019

‘Part of the Family’

Earlier this month, on a Lebanese variety show called Menna W Jerr, a man performed a skit dressed in blackface – he wore a braided, beaded wig – and a domestic worker’s uniform. In the sketch, the overworked domestic worker berates her employer for complaining that he has no money, and constant headaches, but meanwhile ‘has fun with’ his wife every night. The audience laughed, but one of the show’s judges, the Egyptian comedian Bassem Youssef, spoke out against the portrayal. There was no need for blackface, he said, and the sketch was especially insensitive considering the system under which most domestic workers in Lebanon are employed. The programme issued an apology on Twitter, saying it meant no harm to domestic workers, whom ‘we consider part of the family.’

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