Dear White (and Black!) Americans Who Don’t “Get” Race/ Racism – Halloween Edition
I really didn’t think I had to be here again so soon, but here we are. It’s sad.
My Fellow Americans,
A lot of us celebrated Halloween early this past weekend, as many of us will be either at work or too tired from work to actually go out and party the night of Halloween this year (Thursday). As with every year, there are people who dress up in a particular fashion as people of other races. These can be characters from books or movies. Halloween is a fun time for many adults to have a night to play dress up and be just about anything you want to be. (My costume was particularly racy for the first time ever, but it was fun to do that for a night. [My hat is off to women, though. My costume involved leggings and makeup. How y’all do it regularly, I’ll never understand.])
Keeping in mind that you can be anything you want to be, the University of Colorado at Boulder issued a letter asking students to be mindful of the costumes that they chose. They specifically asked them to think twice about cultural offenses that may happen if a student is not of said culture or race and makes themselves look like it. I took it as a letter just asking some students to think twice before picking an outfit. Fox News apparently thought it meant that UC-Boulder was telling students to not have fun. I get that political correctness can go too far sometimes, but at the base level, I’d think that thinking people would find blackface offensive, especially in 2013.
Sadly, this is not the case. Seriously, America, what is wrong with you? Let’s tackle white people first.
White Americans, what the heck?! Seriously. Take a look at these:
These are from some fashion event where people thought that animal/jungle meant “Taking America back to Al Jolson’s heyday.”
Here is what you may not understand about your costumes – THEY’RE RACIST. Why can’t you just do this instead?
See? This guy is white and is slaying us as James Earl Jones’s character from Coming to America without darkening his skin. We “get” who he’s supposed to be. No black makeup was required.
You know what else we would have “gotten”?
Why is this offensive to black people? Well, first, it assumes we can’t read the name tag indicating Julianne as Crazy Eyes from Orange is the New Black on Netflix (great series, by the way…if a bit REALLY adult). Second, she darkened her skin to become a tanned white woman Tampa Bay resident like we were supposed to “get” her character more. She ain’t even black, tho. We see the outfit. We see the hair. WE SEE THE NAME TAG! This is wholly unnecessary.
For those who don’t understand, blackface has roots in the minstrel show, which was when white people would put on black face and depict black people as happy-go-lucky, blundering, idiotic, buffoonish caricatures who always had a happy song o’ cheer on their lips, no matter how hard life was for them. Do you get it? Black people were things and not people. This is what you’re subconsciously doing to us again – you’re making us things and not people while you get to go home, take off the makeup, and return to being a full 100% human being. In the days of Trayvon Martin, Trayon Christian, Kayla Phillips, and Jordan Davis (just Google their names), it’s enough that black people are thought the worst of before they even do anything. It’s not like we need help to make us less-than-human. You can stop that crap any time now, white people.
And yes, you are being offensive, and no, I’m not being overly-sensitive. This is racism. Also, White Chicks was a movie that I still don’t understand from 2004. Y’all been doing this stuff since before 1865 and haven’t stopped. Furthermore, White Chicks was not used to demean and de-person a disenfranchised group like blackface and minstrel shows. So, don’t even go there. In fact, the only blackface pass I’ll give is for Robert Downey, Jr., in Tropic Thunder because there were LAYERS to what he was doing in the movie. He actually made a point about people being people while appearing to lampoon them. You’re just doing this for Halloween, so you’re not that influential. Don’t try to give that defense.
I “get” offensive costumes. I find many of them funny. This, though? This is going too far. I saw many Steve Irwin costumes right after his death from a sting-ray, and I had mixed feelings on those. This is just all kinds of layers of wrong. And he’s in blackface! And he’s a car thief!
Do better, White Americans! I’m sick of this crap! Just think for one darn second. It doesn’t take much effort to get out of your little box you live in. Just think. Pray for sensitivity and real, honest friends from all over the world. Learn from them. Know and respect boundaries.
Finally, BLACK AMERICANS, don’t be stupid like this girl. This is what happens when a black person tries so hard to fit in with white people that they start to lose who they are in the process. No, don’t ever forget slavery or Jim Crow (Jews ain’t letting up on the Holocaust remembrance, and rightfully so), but also don’t try to assimilate because dumb stuff like this happens. Like, I want to sit her down, have her write me several research papers on the horrors of slavery, take her to see Twelve Years a Slave, and then beat her with the history book about the temples until she’s smarter about slavery. Then pray for her recovery and comprehension skills. Because this? This is too much.
I’m actually impressed that she’s a black girl with mostly white friends who has her hair put together. Normally, those black girls think they don’t have to do black girl stuff to their hair, so she’s clearly connected to black culture somewhere. I just canNOT believe this happened, though. Or this. Please note the slave in the background. Like…#LaurynHillOppressiveSigh (tm @mskimisfierce on Twitter).
So, America, have fun on Halloween this Thursday. Enjoy it. But be smarter about your choices. Please. I beg you. I’m about at the end of my rope with racial insensitivity in this nation.
::Joins the NRA::