If You're Confused About Whether or Not to Wear Blackface, Just Err on the Side of NOT


Well, you know what they say: it wouldn’t be Halloween without a dumb-college-kids-in-blackface controversy!!! (Actually, it would. It would still be the same Halloween in every way, except with less cringing and more pride in the nation’s youth.) A photo taken at a Halloween party this week shows white University of Florida fraternity members smeared head-to-toe in dark greasepaint to look like “rappers.” It’s nothing new:

“This comes up like clockwork every year around Halloween across the country at different colleges,” Katheryn Russell-Brown, UF law professor and director of the Center for the Study of Race and Race Relations, told the newspaper.
“What we’re talking about is not so much whether people can do this … but what message it sends and what kind of community we want to have,” she said.

Memo to everyone: If you feel like your costume idea might be insulting to another group of human beings, even if you’re not completely sure why, why not just err on the side of NOT WEARING THAT COSTUME? Or at least…doing some research first? It would save everyone so much grief. I get that you might not understand why blackface is offensive. But can’t you just trust black people as a whole when they tell you that it is? If you want to dress up like a bundle of stereotypes ”rapper” for Halloween, why not just go as Bubba Sparxxx? Or you and your best friend could team up and go as the great Eminem/Everlast feud of 1999. (FYI, according to Vibe, “the beef has been squashed since then and there is a mutual respect between Mathers and Everlast.”)

To their credit, the fraternity handled the situation with impressive grace:

The individuals wearing the costumes said they made “a very ignorant and poor decision” and they weren’t aware of the history of blackface.
“At no point in time were we ever trying to negatively portray African-American stereotypes,” they said in a statement. “We have since learned about the history of ‘blackface’ and fully understand how our actions were insulting to the African-American community.”

Look! Thinking and learning! Faith in America’s youth restored. Until next year.

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