Nick Cannon isn’t typically at the top of the list of comedians likely to offend, but he’s currently at the center of a rapidly growing controversy thanks to the picture above. That’s Cannon himself donning the rarely-discussed whiteface, and as so many have discovered before, altering one’s skin color, whether it’s in good fun or not, doesn’t typically go over very well.

The snapshot in question was sent on Cannon’s Instagram account yesterday, and it included a slew of white stereotype hashtags like “good credit”, “farmers market” and “dog kissing”. The backlash happened almost immediately, though what exactly people are pissed about doesn’t seem to be the whiteface itself. If hundreds of knee-jerk comments are any indication, the majority of people who are offended, which may or may not be the majority of people in general, seem to be more angry about a perceived double standard than Cannon poking fun at white people. Many don’t see why Julianne Hough should be tarred and feathered for going as her favorite black television character but Cannon should be given a free pass for dressing up as a white dude.

Of course, there are two main problems with those comments. First, Cannon isn’t really getting a free pass. He’s been getting blasted by the media and people on social media for the last twenty-four hours. No one has thrown him a party for pretending to love farmers markets. Second, there’s clearly a difference between whiteface and blackface because of the disturbing history of blackface when it was used to demean an entire race. There are practical reasons why people should be more sensitive to it.

That being said, Cannon should know better than this. There’s decades worth of evidence that indicates altering skin color does nothing more than piss people off. It almost never accomplishes anything more than irritating people, and since there’s no larger point trying to be proven here (other than that he has an album coming out), the America’s Got Talent host should have filtered himself and left this idea on the cutting room floor.

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