Taiwan's Wackyboys perform coffin dance in blackface

Popular Taiwanese YouTubers stir controversy by performing Ghana coffin dance in blackface

Wackyboys performing in blackface. (Facebook, Wackyboys screenshot)

Wackyboys performing in blackface. (Facebook, Wackyboys screenshot)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A trio of popular Taiwanese YouTubers drew derision from some netizens after they posted a video of themselves on Sunday (May 31) performing the Ghana coffin dance in blackface.

As protests were breaking out across the U.S. over the killing of African American George Floyd, Wackyboys, a group of Taiwanese YouTubers who have 1.45 million subscribers, posted a video of themselves spoofing the Ghana coffin dance, in blackface. The incident occurred less than a month after the dance troupe Luxy Boyz also performed the same dance in blackface at a Taipei nightclub.

As protests and riots raged in multiple U.S. cities over police brutality against African Americans, the group on Sunday posted a comedy skit of three of them dressed in black suits and black makeup smeared on their faces, dancing to the same techno song used by the Ghanian dancers while hoisting a fake coffin on their shoulders. The video appeared on the group's Instagram and Facebook pages, but was notably absent from its YouTube account.

(Instagram, Wackyboys screenshot)

In the 30-second video, the three men can be heard giggling as they clumsily perform an abbreviated version of the dance in front of a department store in Tianmu. The timing of the video is unfortunate, given current events in the U.S. and the already substantial backlash against the Luxy Boyz for appearing in blackface.

An artist of African descent living in Taiwan alerted Taiwan News to the footage and described it as "disrespectful and disgusting, especially considering the current climate. I'm appalled." Netizens began posting complaints on the group's Instagram and Facebook accounts.

Angry comment by netizen of African descent. (Instagram screenshot)

To add insult to injury, one of the group members posted a comment on Instagram in which he wrote, "My Cotton is coming," reported Taiwan Observer. After followers complained about the perceived racist connotations of the comment, he later deleted it.

(Instagram, Wackyboys screenshot)

As complaints began to mount, the group finally took down the videos and photos on Tuesday (June 2). When pressed to apologize, one member of the group, surnamed Sun (孫), left a comment on one of the Instagram posts of the photos which read, "Already deleted! We did not have the intention of ridiculing, can't do that. The world is one big family."

(Instagram, Wackyboys screenshot)

A student from Nigeria told Taiwan News that he did not like to see blind hate directed at the group because he said he believed their actions came from ignorance. However, he said that he felt they should apologize for their actions.

He found it insulting that even after the backlash, the group members continued to leave the photos on their personal accounts. He said he hoped that this could be a learning experience on "why this is wrong, what we can learn from this, and what we can do to prevent a future event from happening."

He concluded by saying that whether racism occurs intentionally or out of ignorance, "It is a tough subject that needs to addressed in Taiwan so we can all get along better."

Sun's personal Instagram account. (Instagram, soon6669 screenshot)

After Taiwanese YouTuber Louis Li (李育群) posted a blackface video in 2018, Gabriel Carranza, an African American vlogger who goes by the handle "Blaxican," created a response video, which he posted on YouTube and Facebook with both English and Chinese subtitles. In the video, Carranza points out that blackface has been used to dehumanize, suppress, and stigmatize African Americans and says that "it's impossible to separate blackface from my people and its history."

Carranza then explained that in the past, African Americans in Hollywood films were limited to playing roles of servitude such as maids, butlers, or slaves. He compared Li's blackface appearance on YouTube to Hollywood's historical use of blackface, in which white actors played African Americans in highly stereotyped, exaggerated roles, such as a "rapist, a burgler, or a thief. An overall buffoon, just a stupid ignorant person."

Wackyboys have yet to respond to a request for comment on the incident from Taiwan News.

(Instagram, Wackyboys screenshot)