Dear White People (Halloween Edition)
Dear White people:
You. Yes, you, White people reading this post and still licking your wounds and recovering from Courtney unleashing all nine circles of Hell on you because she hates men. (Sorry to remind you of this, but it’s true. She does. I spoke to her on Skype recently, simply so she could happily show off the Valar Morghulis tattoo she now has on her back.) I know that many of you breathed a sigh of relief upon seeing the post that followed hers, which you basically took as a 500-word version of #NotAllMen.
I know that October has only just begun and that Halloween isn’t for another few weeks, but considering how there is a complete and total absence of Act-Right and common sense from many of you who celebrate Halloween, this needs to be said.
I’m sure that you, your family, your friends, and your co-workers are already coming up with ideas on who and what to dress as for Halloween, and for whatever costume party you’ll be attending in the near future. Maybe you’ve already decided on who it is you’ll be dressing up as.
Maybe you’ll dress up as Colin Kaepernick.
Maybe you’ll dress up as Leslie Jones in Ghostbusters.
Maybe you’ll dress up as Luke Cage.
Or maybe you’ll dress up as Harambe. (Because there’s just something about a gorilla being shot to death due to careless and unfortunate human error that is just hilarious, I guess)
And most likely, you’re going to use brown face paint as part of your costume choice. Because you’re clearly not racist and you don’t see any harm in it, and how else are people supposed to know who you’re dressed up as if you don’t use it?
I just have one word in response to that:
Seriously, White people, if you’re really feeling the urge to put on Blackface for a costume because you think that shit is cute:
And if one word isn’t enough for you, let me make myself even clearer:
You can’t possibly be this stupid, White people. You really can’t. After seeing the numerous examples on social media of your fellow White people showing themselves off in costumes with Blackface (including Julianne Hough from Dancing With The Stars, one of Paula Deen’s idiotic children, and Colton Haynes, who felt the need to do it not one, not two, but three times before finally realizing that he was being the dumbest of dumb-shits and decided to stop…so he could wear fat suits and dress up as Ursula from The Little Mermaid), only to end up getting embarrassed and/or fired as a result of the Black Twitter Investigation Unit™ finding out who they really are and where they work and exposing them for the whole world to see. To quote The Social Network, the Internet isn’t written in pencil, it’s written in ink, and whether it’s someone from Black Twitter or not, someone is going to come along and remind you of this. And most likely, it will not end well for you.
For those of you who have spent hours scouring the Internet for information about how 9/11 was an inside job, how Barack Obama still hasn’t shown us his birth certificate and is really a Muslim in disguise, and how there really is a dead Munchkin hanging from a tree who can be seen in the background of The Wizard Of Oz if you look hard enough, but still haven’t felt any need to try and understand why Blackface is considered so horrible and ugly and offensive, here’s a brief explanation for you courtesy of The Grio:
Blackface minstrelsy first became nationally popular in the late 1820s when white male performers portrayed African-American characters using burnt cork to blacken their skin. Wearing tattered clothes, the performances mocked black behavior, playing racial stereotypes for laughs. Although Jim Crow was probably born in the folklore of the enslaved in the Georgia Sea Islands, one of the most famous minstrel performers, a white man named Thomas “Daddy” Rice brought the character to the stage for the first time. Rice said that on a trip through the South he met a runaway slave, who performed a signature song and dance called jump Jim Crow. Rice’s performances, with skin blackened and drawn on distended blood red lips surrounded by white paint, were said to be just Rice’s attempt to depict the realities of black life.
Jim Crow grew to be minstrelsy’s most famous character, in the hands of Rice and other performers Jim Crow was depicted as a runaway: “the wheeling stranger” and “traveling intruder.” The gag in Jim Crow performances was that Crow would show up and disturb white passengers in otherwise peaceful first class rail cars, hotels, restaurants, and steamships. Jim Crow performances served as an object lesson about the dangers of free black people, so much so that the segregated spaces first created in northern states in the 1850s were popularly called Jim Crow cars. Jim Crow became synonymous with white desires to keep black people out of white, middle-class spaces.
Minstrel shows became hugely popular in the 1840s exposing white audiences in the North with their first exposure to any depiction of black life. They would often feature a broad cast of characters; from Zip Coon, the educated free black man who pronounced everything incorrectly, to Mammy, a fat, black faithful slave who was really just obviously played by a man in a dress. Black children were depicted as unkempt and ill raised pickaninnies. The running joke about pickaninnies was that they were disposable; they were easily killed because of their stupidity and the lack of parental supervision.
Minstrelsy desensitized Americans to horrors of chattel slavery. These performances were object lessons about the harmlessness of southern slavery. By encouraging audiences to laugh, they showed bondage as an appropriate answer for the lazy, ignorant slave. Why worry about the abolition of slavery when black life looked so fun, silly, and carefree? Even the violence of enslavement just became part of the joke.
These erroneous portrayals of black life were seen by thousands of Americans in the decades before the Civil War. Mark Twain and Abraham Lincoln attended and enjoyed minstrel shows. President Lincoln had the Union band play Dixie at Lee’s surrender; the comic dialogues in Huckleberry Finn are reminiscent of minstrel performances. Minstrelsy became America’s first national popular culture.
Oh, I can hear many of you grumbling under your pumpkin spice latte-tinged breath and preparing yourselves to spout some familiar (and stupid) words in response: “But wait a minute? How come you can call us racist for doing Blackface but you had The Wayans Brothers doing Whiteface in that movie White Chicks? That’s not racist? Just like you’re reverse-whitewashing all the White characters and having Black people play them like Mary-Jane and Iris West and Little Orphan Annie. That’s racist too. Go create your own characters.”
OK, White people. Because many of you insist on using this as your magic bullet every single time this comes up and working the very last nerve of every Black person you cross paths with whenever you do …
The fact that many of you still insist on using the “But what about White Chicks?” defense when it comes to Blackface in the same way that many of you use the “But what about Black-on-Black crime in Chicago?” defense whenever Black Lives Matter is being discussed pretty much tells me that you don’t give anything resembling a shit about White Chicks either. It’s nothing more than a silencing tactic and probably the only reason why White Chicks would ever be discussed by anyone long after its theatrical release.
Also, two of the Wayans brothers playing fictional characters pretending to be White women for a two-hour comedy in comparison to White people putting on Blackface makeup and contributing to the further humiliation and dehumanization of Black people? And doing so for almost two hundred years?
Doesn’t compare. Not in the slightest.
And before the words, “But what about Robert Downey Jr. in Tropic Thunder?,” let me stop you right there as you continue to miss or ignore the entire point of his performance simply so I can tell you to…
You really want to dress up in a way that will grab people’s attention and amuse absolutely no one, other than yourself? Go be like all of the other assholes who are dressing up as clowns and scaring the shit out of people while doing so. That should do the trick. Granted, you stand a very good chance of being arrested and also having the everloving shit kicked out of you by whoever it is you’re trying to scare, but…these are the breaks.
Whatever your reasons are for loving to dress up in Blackface so much, for pretending to not know or just flat-out ignoring the reasons why it’s offensive and still doing it anyway, those reasons are unimportant and I honestly don’t care about any of them. Maybe it’s your way of sticking it to people like President Obama and his family, or to those terrorists in the Black Lives Matter movement, who truly don’t appreciate this country or the hard work and sacrifices that so many (White and only White) people have given to make it so great. Maybe you love and crave the attention that you receive on social media for saying and doing things like this from people who will smile and laugh and nod their heads in approval when seeing you say and do things like this. Maybe you think that everyone is just too damn sensitive and you miss the days of saying and doing whatever you wanted without anyone complaining or taking offense. Or maybe you are nothing more than one more White person who wants to play pretend and briefly experience the cool and fun part of being a Black person and not, you know…everything else that comes with being a Black person. Maybe you’re just one more example of what Paul Mooney was talking about when he once said, “Everybody wants to be a nigga, but nobody wants to be a nigga.”
So if you really want that badly to dress up in Blackface for Halloween and make yourself into yet another in a long list of embarrassments to the White race like these fine people…
…go right ahead.
If you really feel that it’s absolutely impossible to have a memorable Halloween costume without the use of Blackface (even though the photos posted below this paragraph prove that you clearly don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about) and still insist on doing it anyway…
…go right ahead.
Just don’t act hurt or surprised when someone sees what you’ve done and decides to call you out, and/or bring an entire world of hurt to your doorstep, be it with a punch to the face, or with more punches to the face, or with a few well-placed keystrokes. Despite what you’ve heard, ignorance isn’t bliss and there are better and smarter life decisions to be made that don’t include ignoring everything about this country’s history that led to the creation of Blackface for the sole purpose of wearing a Halloween costume.
And to those of you who are reading this and are planning to unleash your anger in the Comments section about Pajiba posting yet another article that’s all angry and political and not funny and makes you wish that Pajiba would just go back to being the way it was before and #NotAllWhitePeople, please know that from the bottom of my cold, black, misanthropic heart, my response to you will simply be this…
…followed by me telling you to, in the words of TK, go fuck yourself into unconsciousness.
Header Image Source: Lionsgate
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