Halloween Has a Blackface Issue and It’s a Racism Problem
Every year. EVERY GAHTDAMB YEAR, Halloween rolls around and we have to deal with folks who want to paint themselves black and brown for some costume. It is exhausting and enraging and absolutely overwhelming. It’s REALLY hard for me to write about it because I just wanna cuss and fight the air and kick trashcans and throat punch the offenders.
I’ve never been a fan of Halloween, and it isn’t for any reason besides that I am pretty indifferent about rocking costumes and I’m lazy. That’s it. But, I didn’t mind the holiday because it can be amusing to see what people come up with. Now, I’m ready to place Halloween in the “HATE” box.
SO. MUCH. BLACKFACE! There are too many pictures floating around of college students, adults, fashion designers, random ingrates who decided that their costumes weren’t complete without the use of black or brown paint to change their skin color. AND MY SOUL IS BOTHERED TO THE CORE.
The fact that we still gotta tell people “Hey bro. Don’t do that blackface thing” in 2013 is mind-boggling. MIND. BOGGLING. What the hell is wrong with people??
You can wear a halloween costume of someone with a different ethnicity as you WITHOUT painting yourself their color! My girl Tracy Clayton (@BrokeyMcPoverty) wrote a post on BuzzFeed called 14 Times People Dressed As People Of Other Races For Halloween And Managed Not To Be Offensive that proves this. I particularly LOVE this costume of Left Eye from the Creep video:
That is the greatest costume in the history of life and it’s super clever and awesome. AND HE DIDN’T PAINT HIS BODY!
Halloween is doable without blackface but it’s clear that those who do it either don’t know better or they don’t give a good gahtdamb that they’re being racist degenerates. I think it’s the latter most of the time because some of these costumes are so blatantly offensive that you cannot tell me these are just people with poor taste.
Upper left is actress Julianne Hough dressed up as “Crazy Eyes” from Orange is the New Black. Hers loses the least. To the right of that is Italian fashion designer Allesandro Dell’Acqua and friends at his “Disco Africa” themed Halloween party (read The Fashion Bomb’s post on it with MORE pics from the party where it seemed to be a requirement to be a part). At the bottom are the people who think Trayvon Martin costumes are awesome. The ones on the left have been identified as Greg Cimeno and William Filene. The internet has dragged them up, down and diagonally.
These costumes though. This is why I’m tired. THIS IS WHY I SLEPT FOR 10 HOURS LAST NIGHT. Because people have the unmitigated gall to not only paint their skin black for shiggles (shits and giggles), but they do it in the worst way. The Italian designers are LITERALLY dressed as Sambo. My God. And the ones below decided to dress like an innocent Black boy who was killed because FUNNY. HA HA HELL.
I am still unable to articulate how angry this makes me. Like, my ability to deal is out of stock and I don’t know when a new order will be placed. I CAN’T TIMES INFINITY!
WHITE PEOPLE, THIS IS NOT OKAY. I REPEAT: NOT OKAY! We talk about this every year but here we are again. Telling you that it’s not okay. Next year, I’m sure we’ll be having this same conversation.
People are so bold and unapologetic about this and it’s a greater problem than just Halloween. It’s about a system where racism permeates every fiber and Halloween just happens to be a great excuse for it to rear its ugly (black)face. Or redface. I used 4 examples of blackface but redface is another issue on the same spectrum.
It’s the same reason that there’s still a sports team called “Redskins” in 2013. What *I* don’t understand is how a group of people can say “you’re offending us. Stop that!” and people can go “BUT OUR TEAM NAME!” or “WE’RE JUST HAVING FUN! RELAX!” That’s like if you’re stepping on my toes, I say “ouch” and you say “But I’ve been standing on your feet for 10 minutes. I like it. I’ll stay.” THE HELL SENSE DOES THAT MAKE???
My alma mater is the University of Illinois. Chief Illiniwek was such an offensive mascot and I never wore any gear with his face on it.. He was always portrayed by a white student and he’d hop around around during halftime of sports games yelling “OSKEE WOW WOW.” O_______O When they got rid of him, people were in tears talmbout “HE IS TRADITION!” Grown ass people were on TV crying about being mad that our mascot, the made up Indian chief, was being retired. Alums threatened to stop donating to the university because the RACIST MASCOT WAS BEING RETIRED! I was floored.
Why do they need to stop painting themselves black and brown for laughs, and why do they need to get rid of a racial slur that represents a sports franchise? Because fuck our feelings of hurt and pain that’s attached to centuries of denigration, genocide, slavery, small pox and EVERY TERRIBLE THING EVER.
Again, I ask WHAT THE HELL?
People suck. Racism sucks. Halloween sucks and I’m so over all of it.
I want us all to stop being such terrible human beings. Is that possible? When a group of people tell us we’ve done something to hurt them, can we acknowledge their pain and fix it? Can you stop saying we live in a post-racial society now?
And for next year, can you tell your white friends, family members, cousins and neighbors to put down the black/brown body paint? PUT. IT. DOWN. Just no. And in case you’re confused about whether you should, I’ve created a handy chart for you.
A couple of people have said that we should ignore these people in blackface because it’s bringing them attention they want. They may want attention but I firmly disagree that we should ignore them. Ignoring hate has never been the way to disassemble the racist system in place. On THIS issue, I don’t think our silence is enough.
I’m a fan of the “don’t feed the trolls” theory but these aren’t just trolls and the problem is bigger than the individuals in the pictures above. So I will call it and them out. YEARS before the advent of social media, people were doing Blackface on halloween. They didn’t get attention and it has continued. Bad behavior is not to always be rewarded with ignoring. People need to be held accountable.
I have to ask. Have some of you had friends/fam do blackface halloween costumes? Did you tell them to go have an arena of seats? Also, since I threw that in there, how do you feel about the whole Washington Redskins name?