[C. 1890s Chromolithographic Print using Racial Stereotypes to depict an African American Child].
An 1890s “chromo” shows a black child being hit with a snowball. Why?
White on Black
This sizable c. 1890s chromolithographic print shows a smiling African American youth raising his hand in salute to an unseen person.
Why is he grinning so broadly? After all, he’s being hit in the head by a snowball.
The white snowball just hitting his head contrasts with the boy’s black hair. His hat —now flying away from its perch— and coat are dusted in white snow.
At first glance, it is almost as though the boy is tipping his hat like some kind of comic minstrel character dancing in a show. He reacts cheerily to this victimization. But it is O.K. —he’s smiling!
Black on White?
Large chromolithographic prints or “chromos” were popular at the end of the 19th century. As a decorative image, this particular print plays on the stereotype of blacks as comic characters. The boy seems happy in his victimization; a passive player posed for the viewing pleasure of a white audience.
His reaction reassures the viewer of the place of African Americans in society. As much as the print reflects contemporary societal views, it also serves to perpetuate the idea of black passivity.
Description: [C. 1890s Chromolithographic Print using Racial Stereotypes to depict an African American Child].
[Np. c. 1890s]. 15¾ x 11¾ inches. Small stain at upper left; near fine.