It’s the Halloween season and all over the country people will dress up in costume to celebrate the holiday. In an effort to be original and wear the coolest costume, sometimes people make a really wrong turn. One costume choice that, if you’re white, should never be in play is blackface.
Yes! It is always offensive!
A common mistake many white people make this time of year starts out fine with “Man, I really like this black person and I want to dress like them for Halloween!” Then it turns into an Al Jolson-esque “MAMMY!” This is completely inappropriate.
Some wonder “How offensive is blackface?” Well on a scale of racist one to racist ten with one being country music star Brad Paisley’s “Accidental Racist” — which was totally racist but on accident — to ten being Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Reilly Cooper’s completely intentional, “I’ll fight all them niggers!” racism, black face is a 50. As in 1950, the year Al Jolson died and that disgusting portrayal of black folks should have died as well.
Look, do I think Julianne Hough is a racist for dressing as Crazy Eyes from Orange Is the New Black and wearing blackface? Hell no. I think she’s horrible at costume ideas. She also clearly doesn’t have any black people in her circle of friends. Come on Julianne, you are a gorgeous woman. You’re basically the reason Halloween costume parties exist. But you are white and blonde so if you want to dress as Crazy Eyes, don’t think black face, think Amanda Bynes.
Really white folks, I get the idea of being a black person for a day sounds cool, but just take time to think about these few things before you do:
• “Will my racist Uncle Bill really like this?” If the answer is yes, then do not wear that.
• “Will I be comfortable wearing this around a group of black people at the party?” If the answer is no, then do not wear that.
• “Do I want to be stopped by the police and frisked or potentially accidentally shot by an overzealous ‘neighbor watch’ patrol?” If the answer is no, then do not wear that.
Finally, and most importantly, please remember to think this: “Hey, I’m white. All of the costumes are already made for me! I don’t have to be a black person!” This fact somehow escapes dozens of costumed partygoers every year. As a black, my choices at any costume shop are pretty limited. I’m either going as the black version of someone that is actually white — my black Sherlock Holmes costume last year was dope — or just making up something non-character related. As a white person you have the entirety of the costume shop to choose from, so take advantage. There are thousands of costumes and almost all of them were made for your current skin tone. Please remember: Blackface isn’t funny, it isn’t clever, it isn’t edgy; it’s just racist. It’s like wearing a swastika on your face and being surprised when people think you are anti-Semitic!
Xavier Lamont is a contributor to The Whiskey Journal and a humongous, scary black dude. You may want to listen to him on this one.