What’s spookier than ghosts and goblins on Halloween? Systems of oppression and unrecognized privilege. Scary I know, but here’s what can be done to help!
This should go without saying but here is a reminder that blackface is never acceptable. Along with yellow face or brown face or really any type of costume that involves dressing up as a culture that’s not your own. This doesn’t just go for Halloween, but any holiday or time of year; cultural appropriation is never acceptable.
Although at this point it should be common sense, there always seems to be issue around this time of year. Even seemingly well-educated individuals such as Megyn Kelly cannot see the harm in it.
Megyn Kelly is a journalist whose education extends to holding a law degree. She recently made headlines when she spoke about blackface not being offensive when she was younger and implying that people nowadays are too sensitive. However, speaking in her position as being privileged in race, education, and social class- she shouldn’t really be the one making calls as to what is offensive. That was proven when the backlash from the comments she made led to her show being cancelled.
Everyone is privileged in certain areas and disadvantaged in others. It is safe to say that the former should not tell the latter what to be offended by. It is not anyone's job to police the feelings of others; it should instead be everyone’s job as a good person to make sure they are being respectful.
It is disheartening to still see that in 2018 minority groups are still being disrespected in this fashion. If someone is telling you something is offensive, take their word for it. It can be difficult to relate to a group that you may have no ties to but that is no excuse for disregarding their feelings.
Bottom line: the history behind black face (or any other “costume” like it), is inherently racist. It was used to keep groups down by reducing them to harmful stereotypes. Therefore, even if harm is not the modern intent, it is an underlying consequence.
Halloween is over now, but no matter what time of year it is never okay to “dress up” as someone else’s race. Rest assured that if the costume is quality, everyone will still understand the costume. Stay spooky friends, but also respectful!