Oh, white people. We’re in charge, we’re on top, and we relish in creating offensive situations and then deny our racist behavior. There is no greater example of this then on Halloween, where people young and old can be found donning Geisha makeup, “terrorist” turbans, and the ever popular and always horrifying; blackface. I love Halloween. I love hearing the crisp fall leaves crunch under children’s feet as they run door to door collecting candy, I love the spooky movies playing on cable TV and in theaters, I love dressing up in funny costumes and getting absolutely plastered—but I don’t love racism and sexism. Making a joke at the expense of others takes all of the fun out of the season. If you wear blackface or dress up as a “Mexican” (yeah, most Mexicans don’t just walk around in sombreros drinking tequila, but cool bro) then you’re essentially the guy who brings rufies to the party. You are the fun ruiner, the party pooper, the ignorant twat that no one wants to sit with.
If you can’t tell, I’m pretty pissed. Moments ago I stumbled upon an article which included Instagram photos of adults and children dressed as Ray and Janay Rice for Halloween. As if blackface wasn’t already tremendously offensive, let’s just go ahead and poke fun at the very serious issue of domestic violence while we’re at it—in fact, let’s just add our children into the mix, because they’ll in no way absorb this experience and grow up to think it’s okay or even laughable to hit a woman.
What kills me about offensive Halloween costumes is that they’re meant to be funny. Most people don’t put on a headdress to be mean, they instead fail to see the pain it causes. This is because white people fall outside of the minority experience. We have never been made to feel less than, or even obsolete because of the color of our skin. White women can understand this a little more because living inside of a woman’s body means that we will experience different treatment based on our bodies, how we dress, etc. What I’m trying to say is that minorities wear their experience. They cannot hide from it. Therefore they cannot escape the oppression. As a privileged race, we get to live in a bubble wear the color of our skin does not determine our worth. White people don’t always agree with this phenomenon but it’s because we’ve never felt it. Let me give you an example; two African American teenagers bullied me on the Cota bus once. I will call them teenagers to make myself feel better but I honestly think they were just gigantic middle schoolers. Anyway, one of them threw a pencil at my head and called me a pasty cracker. Hearing that didn’t hurt. I felt confused because I had just gone tanning and therefore couldn’t have been pasty, I also didn’t know what a cracker meant, but it didn’t stick with me. What stuck with me was the look on his face when he realized that I was trying not to laugh. That boy probably thought of the one thing that hurts him the most and tried to use it on me and it fell flat. Race can’t hurt me because everything in my world has been socially constructed to favor whiteness.
If those boys had called me a “slut” or a “bitch” I would’ve had a different reaction. My stomach would have turned; I would have felt unsafe, and probably ashamed. I know how powerful sexism can be, I learned it the hard way. So when I see women dressing up as Janay Rice or even worse, men dressed as Ray Rice, carrying lifeless African American dolls behind them, I get angry. I get angry out of powerful mixture of disgust and fear. Disgust, because if these people could see the crushing effects of domestic violence on women, if they could sit next to a survivor and hear her chilling testimony of living with a monster, they would never dream of making light of it. Fear, because the more we get comfortable with domestic violence and rape—the harder it will be to fight it.
There is no room for cultural appropriation and sexism in Halloween festivities. Nobody wants to see privileged bodies dance around in cultural staples that others have been oppressed for. It’s not a good look for anyone. So please, this year when you’re choosing your costume—choose carefully. Pass over the sexy Nava Hoe’s, the Osama Bin Laden’s, and for the love of God lose the blackface. Remember that there are literally millions of other options that won’t offend women and minorities. So if you’re sitting at the computer still thinking, “well what else is there?” just stay in this weekend.