Salon owner defends employee wearing blackface for Michael Jackson costume, says she didn't know 'it was a thing'

Hope Schreiber
·Writer
A salon owner says she didn’t know what blackface was in defense of her and her employees’ Michael Jackson Halloween costumes. (Photo: Madeleine Hackett/WYFF News 4 via Facebook)
A salon owner says she didn’t know what blackface was in defense of her and her employees’ Michael Jackson Halloween costumes. (Photo: Madeleine Hackett/WYFF News 4 via Facebook)

The hairstylists and owner of an Anderson, S.C., salon, Holmes Hair Studio, are known for going all out when Halloween rolls around, but many people are upset over their choice of group costume this year.

Keysha Holmes, the owner of the salon, and two employees dressed up as Michael Jackson at, apparently, different stages of his career. Holmes wore the iconic Thriller look, complete with zombie makeup; an employee wore a single glove and fedora in the style of the King of Pop’s “Billie Jean” days; and another opted to wear a black wig and brown makeup.

Holmes, who shared on her Facebook page on Oct. 25, “Halloween is here If anyone wants some free entertainment and laugh till it hurts come on down to Holmes hair studio tomorrow. You will not be disappointed,” says the costumes were just for fun. 

The salon owner says she didn’t know blackface was “a thing” before the backlash.

“I didn’t never know it was a thing. Ever. She put Covergirl brown makeup on her face,” Holmes told WYFF News 4.

When reached for comment, Holmes told Yahoo Lifestyle, “All I’m going to say, I’m anti-news. I will not get involved with news because the news is the devil. I will not be in that hate stir fest. The news stirs hatred. Until we get Jesus in our hearts and minds, the world will continue to get worse. I’m sorry but I don’t want to have a interview with anyone other than the Christian radio station. Thank you and have a blessed day. How about write about people shooting up churches and schools. Pray for them.”

Jalen Elrod, a civil rights activist and candidate for Greenville NAACP president, told WYFF News 4, “There are some people that might think these things are harmless, but I think those who do don’t have a full grasp of history of racism in this country.” Blackface has been prominent in American culture since the 19th century and has always promoted racial stereotypes.

However, Holmes has not lost the support of her local community over the costumes. One dedicated customer, Casey Bridges Garrett, shared her thoughts on Facebook, writing, “I PERSONALLY THINK THAT WE LIVE IN A SAD MESSED UP WORLD IF DRESSING UP LIKE MICHEAL JACKSON AND PAINTING YOUR FACE OFFENDS PEOPLE. GROW UP!!! ITS FOR FUN.”

Garrett’s status was met with a number of comments stating, “I agree!”

The employee who appeared as Michael Jackson in blackface responded to Garrett’s comment, “Anything I did wasn’t to hurt anyone it was just Michael Jackson when he was Jackson 5 and we were showing the changes stages of him .. I feel terrible, i hope it dies down soon and I’m so glad people have supported us I have no hate for no one and love everyone the same.”

The woman who was accused of wearing blackface did not immediately respond to Yahoo Lifestyle’s requests for comment.

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