Rapper Snoop Dogg, whose real name is Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr., has gone through several versions of his self-styled nickname, most recently converting -- he said -- to Rastafarianism and changing his name to "Snoop Lion." However, the rapper has come up with his most baffling persona so far. In a series of Instagram postings, Snoop Dogg has presented himself in whiteface as "Todd," a spokesman for some sort of social website called "White Guys Connect."
Why the Los Angeles-based Snoop Dogg has suddenly this week decided to become a white man, or at least his idea of a parody of a white man, has puzzled just about everyone who has seen fit to mention the "Todd" character in the media.
In the videos, "Todd" describes the apparently non-existent White Guys Connect site as a place where "where white guys look for fly single females to have a good time."
"Give us a call," Todd implores in his best unaccented, nasal "white" voice.
"Whiteface aside, these videos have us a little confused," wrote Billboard Magazine. "Why is it called 'White Guys Connect' if it's about men meeting women? And why would Todd want us to call a website?"
In one video, Todd states his interests, presumably in the form of a dating profile designed to attract "fly single females." His interests are apparently what the 42-year-old rapper considers typical pastimes for white men.
They include, "paintball, crocheting, and some spoken word in my free time."
While white men adopting "Blackface," that is, coloring their skin dark brown to impersonate an African-American, is generally considered a pernicious racial stereotype associated with derisive mocking of what were perceived to be common traits of black people, African-Americas adopting "whiteface" is primarily a tool of humor.
"The stock characters of blackface minstrelsy have played a significant role in disseminating racist images, attitudes and perceptions worldwide," says the site Black-face.com, which is dedicated to exposing the history of racial stereotyping. "White America's conceptions of Black entertainers were shaped by minstrelsy's mocking caricatures and for over one hundred years the belief that Blacks were racially and socially inferior was fostered by legions of both white and black performers in blackface."
On the other hand, African-American comedians such as Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence have successfully portrayed white characters for comedic purposes, generally without incident simply because America does not have a centuries-long history of black people enforcing institutional discrimination against whites and employing demeaning stereotypes to justify the denial of equitable social treatment.
Still, the purpose of Snoop Dogg's "Todd" character remains murky.