Blackface TV show outrage as white singer paints skin to cover Bill Withers song

A Polish reality TV show is under fire for using blackface when its stars cover songs by black artists, with a recent clip of a white woman impersonating Bill Withers going viral.

In the clip, female singer Maja Hyży, who came fourth in a Polish version of X-Factor, has painted skin and is wearing a curly textured wig.

She sings Withers' classic soul 1971 hit Ain't No Sunshine wearing a red checked shirt and men's baggy trousers.

The judges seem to enjoy the cover and nod along to the music but the use of blackface has sparked outrage online because of its history of mocking and dehumanising black people in minstrel shows.

Commenting on the clip on Instagram, one horrified user wrote: "This is f***ed up! This show sucks."

"I can’t get over the fact that you guys do this it’s not ok no matter where you are," blasted a second person.

Someone else said: "Dang! The audacity to be very offensive with black face AND they sound awful and are ruining an iconic song?"

A fourth viewer wrote: "This is atrocious. And the disrespect."

The show Your Face Sounds Familiar defended the use of blackface and claimed it was trying to be "precise" and "honour" the original artists.

"We are very surprised with the number of negative comments regarding the TV show Your Face Sounds Familiar," it said in a statement.

It continued: "The Polish edition of the show, seen as exemplary abroad, always tries to show great performances, which strive to be as close to the original as possible.

"Your Face Sounds Familiar is an entertainment show, which invites celebrities to try and recreate the image and the performance of famous and distinguished artists, while trying to be as accurate in the depiction as they can.

"This is an idea known all over the world.

"The producers and contestants of all previous series of the show had always one thing in mind – to recreate most accurately (vocally, movement-wise and visually) the big music stars of Polish or foreign origin – which are selected for them randomly."

Its statement then named other Polish celebrities who had dressed up as black artists on the show, such as Kasia Skrzynecka as Tina Turner, Mariusz Totoszko as Stevie Wonder, and Kacper Kuszewski as Missy Elliott.

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