Zombies, Witches, and Blackface

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.

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The Divided States of America

I sat on a bench that ran along the north side of Ohio State’s legendary oval while I sipped my coffee and stared out across the green. It was a beautiful morning which was sure to turn into an idyllic spring day. But then suddenly something caught my eye. It was a sign, and after further concentration I noticed that there were more. Big, with blaring reds and pinks. I strained my eyes to see what they were displaying and then it hit me. The antiabortion crusaders had found their way back to our cheery campus to spread their hellfire and blame. They come every year to swarm the paths we women use to walk to class. Glaring and staring they shove their brutally vicious signs in our faces. Signs which carry grotesque images of aborted fetuses, as if that’s anyway to respect the dead. I wanted to scream loud enough for them to hear me. I wanted to run over to them and kick down their signs and make them see that I was right there and they wouldn’t scare me away. But I didn’t, instead I just watched. I let the blood boil up inside me and the tears well up in my eyes, and I sat.

I fumed silently the whole way home. I pressed my face to the Cota Bus window and closed my eyes. What are they still protesting against? Aren’t they winning? My inbox is constantly flooded with news about the attack on women’s health. Email after email telling me that my rights are slipping from my grasp. They scream at me and I scream back in protest, furiously signing every petition I can then throwing it out to a community that doesn’t care.

I got home and threw my keys on the counter. Digging frantically through my cupboard I found my tea and put the kettle on the stove. My phone buzzed from within my jacket pocket, “God, now what?” I read the received message and my mouth fell open. The Ethnic Studies building, Hale hall, had been defaced. This morning had brought with it more than a cool spring chill, it brought the realization of racism on our campus. At some point early this morning it was discovered that someone had spray painted “Long Live Zimmerman” on the side of the building.

For those of you who are not familiar with the Trayvon Martin case, get familiar, because it is quickly dividing our nation. Martin was a 17 year old black male who was shot and killed on his return to a gated community in Sanford FL, by George Zimmerman. Zimmerman described Trayvon as being “suspicious” because he was wearing a hoodie. Well, and he was black. After all there are no black families living in gated communities in this country. It’s a tragic case of racial profiling, a case that in this day and age shouldn’t be tolerated.

All politics and arguments aside, there was wrongful death. A young boy died because of his race and unfortunately that’s the reality of the situation. His grieving family, friends, and community must carry on his name as they strive for justice. I do not believe that George Zimmerman is an evil man, nor do I believe that his rash decision was completely his fault. Our society is a racist institution that sets both parties up for failure. Zimmerman was conditioned by the media and perpetual racist notions to believe that all young black men are criminals. This has got to stop. This separation of human beings based on their gender, race, and class. We are all people deserving of a community which loves, connects, and protects us, and quite frankly The United States isn’t it.

These battles being fought against marginalized races and ethnic groups as well as the ones being fought against women are tearing this country apart. Everyone has a side, or an agenda. We’re all seeking the benefit of one, but what ever happened to one for all? In this constant uphill march for equality and social justice are we losing our footing? When I stared at the picture of the defaced Hale hall I found myself lost in fear and confusion. In the same way I would respond to an adult bullying another, I want to step away from America and ask “Aren’t we too old for this?”

I’m sick of my own government attacking my rights as a woman, and even sicker of my brothers not standing up with me. I am sick racism and profiling, and overall ignorant behavior. No one loses in a society that is built upon equality. This is my country and I want it to be a safe place for everyone in it. I refuse to let oppression run my life and rip my community apart, I am standing up and demanding justice. It’s time for the Divided States of America to once again become United.

Black is Beautiful.

In this country if you are a woman then you will undoubtedly experience sexism in your lifetime. You may find yourself faced with sexual abuse, struggle with getting your voice heard, and even have to fight for your freedom of choice. If you are a black woman in America you will feel all of this pressure as well as something separate but equally as debilitating, this being racism.

Racism is a sickness that has plagued the African American population since their forefather’s were brought to this country in chains. The idea that the black people of this country are inferior to the white dominant race, regardless of class, is one that is completely ingrained into American culture. The Civil rights movement brought about great change and granted justice to those who had been victims of discrimination. However, just because you write something on paper and stamp it with an official stamp, doesn’t mean that everyone will change their behavior. Racism is handed down from parent to child and passed around nonchalantly between friends. This is also how sexism works. Negative concepts and stereotypes about women maintain their existence through the individuals who mindlessly pass them on.

So there it is. Black women get hit twice, and possibly the hardest of any race in this country. There are age old stereotypes that are still very much alive today. Stereotypes that continue to affect our judgment and force black women into labeled boxes. among these labels there is Jezebel, which represents the idea that black women are overtly sexual and uninhibited. We can still see this today just by flipping on BET. Next time you watch a popular rap video notice the women who slide up and down the poles, the ones whom they refer to as “video hoes.” These are your modern day Jezebels. Rappers are using sexist images of money hungry scantily clad women which will then influence white society to assume, “Oh this is how all black women must be.” Does that seem fair? No, because it’s not. Often times sexism becomes the starting point for racist ideas. Then there’s Mammy, a woman that represents everyone’s aunt, grandmother, as well as economic depression. Her image can be seen stamped on Aunt Jemima advertisements. The plastic pancake syrup bottle has even been molded to match her full figured body. Today Mammy has become the “big ghetto momma” on the block that no one wants to mess with. Finally, there’s Sapphire. This cliche is portrayed countlessly on Mad TV and SNL skits. She is the woman who will rip out the weave of another and swing it around her head like some sort of battle prize. In other words, she’s a bitch.

These historical labels are ridiculous. By perpetuating any of these stereotypes we are doing a direct injustice to black women. Because these negative ideas have remained such a huge part of our culture for an immense amount of time they can become expectations that women have no choice but to fulfill. We, as women must do everything in our power to support one another. I know we can, because as a collective we are powerful. No one deserves to receive negativity from all sides, to be pushed around and beaten down. If you say that black women and girls are “hard” then why don’t you ask yourself why, or even if they actually are all this way. Black trulyis beautiful, but beyond that we are all beautiful. Regardless of our skin, eyes, size, or the texture of our hair. We have a duty to break our friends and sisters from these steely cages. We must uplift every woman in order to uplift ourselves. In the end, no matter what we look like or where we come from, we are all beautiful because we are women, and being a woman is a great thing.