Tesla’s Blackface Robot: Promoting Slavery as Fantasy?

An infamous blackface performance by Tesla indicates to me the company is promoting a fantasy of robots that invokes a discussion of slavery.

What do you see here?

Source: Internet image search for “Tesla slave”

Does a white men dressed all in black seem odd next to a robot made to appear like a black woman all in white?

I mean if the robot is supposed to represent humans, why not also have that robot dressed all in black just like all the men on stage?

And why not have the robot appear with a white face like the man standing next to it?

More to the point, is this a mock-up for a petite black woman standing next to her white male owner (e.g. why did they announce 5’8″ and 125 lb with large hips as their ideal form, when not even a prototype exists)?

Several white men have reacted with shock and disgust when I bring up these simple observations.

One literally sent me a message of black text on a white screen trying to tell me the robot face HAS to be black because a white interface doesn’t work. I wrote back with black text on white interface “can you read this”?

Let’s go even deeper into blackface history. It’s curious to me because people very familiar with blackface have not resisted this comparison. Thus I humbly ask the sad and painful experience of a blackface performance be viewed by everyone first, to learn history and gain perspective, such as this one:

Now watch Tesla’s product pre-pre-announcement (nothing exists, it’s all just a theory) in context of blackface dance, as it appears to have little purpose other than to use a product launch to put on a blackface stunt.

The surrounding commentary from Tesla doesn’t help move my impression in any way about the connections here.

…designed to eliminate “dangerous, repetitive and boring tasks,” like bending over to pick something up, or go to the store for groceries, Musk said. “Essentially the future of physical work will be a choice.”

That is slavery talk. Creating a robotic black woman “bending over” for him, getting groceries, making physical work optional for him… all of that is consistent with the narrative of slavery.

Bending over? Seriously. Musk is trying to say he is building a feminine robot to bend over for him, and wants to pass that off as something safety related?

In a seemingly like-minded comment, Musk emphasized an odd definition of how he expects to remain in control.

“We’re setting it such that it is at a mechanical level, at a physical level, you can run away from it and most likely overpower it”

They are shackling it so it can’t run away, also making it easy to leave it behind? Come on.

None of this makes any sense in terms of actual market needs, let alone actual security and safety controls (e.g. the “you” in his statement seems to imply a large white man). Musk claiming there will be “no shortage of labor” due to this robot announcement while in the next sentence saying “not yet though, because this robot doesn’t work ha ha ha” has to be evidence of an unhealthy mind.

It’s so far outside actual robotics and instead a sad display of tech-driven fantasy of white men with enslaved petite black women being physically dominated… it’s no wonder no women were on stage during such a presentation, or alone anyone black. On top of all that, I have to wonder who thought I was a good idea to have the petite blackface robot symbolically standing behind all these men, obscured by them.

Again, a bunch of men dressed in black in front of a black scene doesn’t make sense when the robot is supposed to be the focus. Might as well dress the robot in all black too? Something is just totally off with the disconnect, the clear dehumanization of a machine meant to appear as human as possible.

All that being said, it could be I’m totally wrong here. Maybe we’ll find out the look Tesla was going for instead was the executioner’s hood.

3 thoughts on “Tesla’s Blackface Robot: Promoting Slavery as Fantasy?”

  1. Thank you. My obcession used to be avoiding talking about race. I was uncomfortable because white privilege made me feel shame. But it really is a problem in this whole world and you helped me see change is needed.

  2. @Ralph thank you for the courage to comment and speak your mind on talking about race. Sometimes I find oppressors will accuse victims of “bringing race into everything”, which is sad and ironic. Racists literally incorporate race into every system as a means of oppression; to tell others they bring it up too often is to try and avoid responsibility for its pervasive purposes. You make an excellent point about the shame it also may carry, so there’s political as well as emotional resistance.

    Baldwin perhaps said it best:

    This is the place in which, it seems to me, most white Americans find themselves. Impaled. They are dimly, or vividly, aware that the history they have fed themselves is mainly lie, but they do not know how to release themselves from it, and they suffer enormously from the resulting personal incoherence. This incoherence is heard nowhere more plainly than in these stammering, terrified dialogues which white Americans sometime entertain with that black conscience, the black man in America.

  3. That dance by the blackface spandex guy straight away reminded me of the word Minstrel.

    No wonder Tesla was told to pay $1.02 million. Most of this went towards Melvin Berry’s attorneys’ fees and legal costs, but Tesla was also told to pay Berry $266,278.50 in damages, including
    $100,000 to compensate for emotional distress.

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