Blackface in Miami: Catedracismo in the age of Obama
Webinar Format: Zoom
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Speaker: Dr. Danielle Roper, University of Chicago
When Senator Barack Obama announced his candidacy for the presidency of the University States, late night talk show hosts across the United States intensely followed his rise to power. Obama’s rise occasioned the curious emergence of the blackface character Yeyo Vargas on the Spanish-language late-night program “Esta Noche Tu Night” (Tonight Tonight) produced in Miami and hosted by the Cuban comedian Alexis Valdes. Decentering U.S. blackface minstrelsy as paradigmatic of a global form, this study reads Yeyo Vargas as a modern “Negro catedrático” figure of Cuba’s teatro bufo theatre tradition and examines the role of blackface tropes from Latin America and the Caribbean in mediating the rise of the first black president in the United States.