Turkish reporter uses blackface to report on Obama

A Turkish reporter on Turkish TV wore blackface on while doing a report on United States President Barack Hussein Obama. The broadcast was on wednesday April 8th. But there are different translations and interpretations about what the reporter actually said and meant. I picked two of them.

The video

First translation

(Rough) Translation: Welcome, Mr. Obama. You took our hearts with your hospitality. We appreciate your kindness. We will do whatever America asks of us, as friends. Now, we ask the same of you.

The reason why the announcer is wearing black face paint is because he wants to show respect to President Obama. This is a real anchorman, and he is just trying to give a bit of a comedy act.

We inquire that you give us what we give to you. By all means, if someone translates this and I call you “black, Arab, or negro”, it does not mean I am disrespecting you. I mean no harm. We respect you.

The anchorman is also trying to show shame for what his country has done, so that is why his face is painted in black. The anchorman is saying that no politicians will directly tell the truth to President Obama while in Turkey. The anchorman says that Muslim terrorists attack inside Turkey, but the country does not renounce Islamic terrorism."

Second translation

Welcome Mr. Obama. You made us happy with your speech in Ankara with your open attitude and good will. However, we have some anxiety. Until now USA has always demanded and gotten what it wants [from Turkey] but now we have a request.

There is a proverb in Turkey which explains my current situation [with the black face]. “They who request something should have a black face, and they who do not give something should be black.” When they translate the word “black” from Turkish to English they might use words such as “Negro” or “Blackie.” Please do not be fooled with this translation. This word is not used to insult or belittle black people. In contrary, it is used in a sense that our face should be darker. Hence, I have painted my face black so that I can make a request to Mr. Obama.

Now to the point. We [Turkey] have had a problem for years with the terrorist organization PKK. You said that PKK is a common enemy to both our countries in your speech today. We are expecting serious and earnest cooperation from you [as opposed to Bush] in this subject. Give us actionable information [from northern Iraq] and we will do whatever is necessary if you do not want to do it. Instruct your allies in northern Iraq to cooperate with us in this subject. They are your “men” and they will obey you.

The second issue is about the “Armenian genocide.” In your speech today you said that your point of view in this subject has not changed. Please give us your support in this subject against the propaganda from the Armenian lobby.

Please continue with your support for Turkey's concession procedure to EU. Also, there is this subject of IMF. We do not want money from you, we want cooperation. You said in your speech that Turkey is an important allied to US. Give us what we want as allies and we will give you what you want.

New York Times news blog: Turkish TV Anchor Dons Blackface to Address Obama
Today's Zaman, The English-language newspaper in Turkey


  1. Hmm. Not too sure what to make of this story. Is this a serious news anchor blacking up his face, or it is a Turkish satirical show like Saturday Night Live having a little fun. I don't usually associate Turkey with racism so I can only assume they did not mean no obvious harm.

  2. Hi Ray. Yes it was serious, but I don't think it was meant to offend. I don't think that in Turkey they know what blacking up your face means in the US.

    Thanks for the compliment in your other comment!

  3. It's obviously a joke but not meant in an offensive manner. I am Turkish and I can tell you the second translation is more accurate, as we really do have a saying about people who request things and black faces. This saying has nothing to do with black people and the whole act is just a pun of sorts.

  4. Someone should tell the anchor that this is not necessary nor is it acceptable. Besides, President Obama is also WHITE. A fact that seems to eludes people.


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