How would you respond if you encountered two men dressed as a murdered Trayvon Martin (in blackface) and finger-gun-wielding George Zimmerman, or as Crazy Eyes (also in blackface) from Orange is the New Black this Halloween?
Although incredibly insensitive, the above photos were taken and shared this week as examples of distasteful Halloween costumes. The photo on the left was shared widely via social media by those in costume, and the one on the right depicts former Dancing with the Stars pro Julianna Hough on her way to a party.
Christine Pelosi, Chair of the California Democratic Party Women's Caucus, wrote that "Halloween Is No Excuse for Hate," in a recent article for the Huffington Post. She states that "Blackface is not "traditional" or "historic" or "makeup" for Halloween or any day of the year. Wearing blackface is as tasteless as waving a confederate flag and rebel yelling the black First Family in the White House." She goes on to call attention to the many offensive aspects of these costumes and motivates readers to speak out and educate people on racial injustices.
A NY Daily News article, Julianne Hough dons blackface for 'Orange Is the New Black' Halloween costume by Margaret Eby, discusses Hough's choice of costume and her subsequent apology.
So, How would you respond if you encountered two men dressed as a murdered Trayvon Martin (in blackface) and finger-gun-wielding George Zimmerman, or as Crazy Eyes (also in blackface) from Orange is the New Black this Halloween? Would you have the courage to say something? How do these costumes make you feel?
The annual reminders colleges need to send their students not to dress in blackface or red face or yellow face demonstrate that we need more voices in the chorus of people speaking out for justice and decency. Speak out, educate, do not be intimidated by the apologists, and do not let extreme racism be mainstreamed. Hopefully there will come a time when we don't need to tell our kids that Halloween is no excuse for hate, and that blackface has no place in a civilized society.
- Christine Pelosi