Well it’s that time of the year again-Halloween is approaching. So you KNOW what that means…racist costumes for everybody! YOU get a racist costume! YOU get a racist costume! Everybody gets a racist costume! This is America, right?! Yea, so since this is America and all, us Black folk have learned that we better brace ourselves for what some white folk have in store for this holiday. Here are the 5 most racist Halloween costumes, and a little a history on Black Face in America.
- You know…there’s so many other things you can be for Halloween besides a slain Trayvon Martin.
2. Aunt Jemima is essentially a “mammy.” What’s a mammy? A mammy is a Black woman who devotes her life to her “masters.” She cares for their children and put theirs needs before the needs of her own. Here she is…kinda.
3. Well this is just plain ol’ blackface. They didn’t even try. Good times!
4. “Black Thugs.” That’s the name of this costume. Not racist at all, right?
5. Then there’s these little angels. So sweet.
Here’s an honorable mention just for the heck of it. Because if you’re Mexican, you don’t wanna forget your Green Card. Here’s a friendly reminder to tie it around your neck for safe keeping!
Ahem. So let’s discuss. For some reason, lots of people can’t quite understand what exactly is so offensive about Black Face. For the life of some folk, they just can’t imagine why Black Face would piss Black people off.
Well here’s a hint: Historical context. This is the key to life. Everything belongs in historical context. And until you put things in perspective, lots of things will be quite perplexing to you. So let me help.
The minstrel show, or minstrelsy, was an American form of entertainment developed in the 19th century of comic skits, variety acts, dancing, and music, performed by white people in blackface or, especially after the U.S. Civil War, by black people.
So just to be clear–lazy, dim-witted, buffoonish are not good character traits. Got it? Ok.
Some of the characters in these “performances” included the “mulatto bedwench”, the “old darky”, the “mammy”, the “slave” and the “dandy.”
So basically, everyone was dancing around, singing songs and being real damn happy while enslaved on a plantation, breastfeeding someone else’s child, etc. A real good time. To sum it up–we were being mocked.
Jim Crow grew to be the most do is character in minstrel land. Jim Crow was depicted as a runaway: “the wheeling stranger” and “traveling intruder.” The “punchline” in Jim Crow performances was that Crow would show up and disturb white passengers in peaceful, high class rail cars, hotels, restaurants, and steamships. Jim Crow performances were supposed to show just how dangerous free black people were.
You like those “pig feets,” huh? Well actually Black folk ate pig feet, chitterlings and any other part of the pig we could get our hands on because African slaves were given only the “leftover” and “undesirable” cuts of meat from their masters (while the white slave owners got the meatiest cuts of ham, roasts, etc.)…but I digress.
You see, everything from our hair, to our skin, to our lips, to our noses, to our ASSES have been mocked and/or fetishsized throughout history. Take our sister Sara Baartman for example.
And now years later…here we are.
Minstrel shows lasted well into the 1960’s. But then the Civil Rights Movement came along, and everyone had to close up shop. You know, everybody had to start being a little less racist then.
And I know, some of you will say–“Well Black people performed in Black Face too!” And before you #AllLivesMatter me to death, let me fill you in on a couple of things-
Back in the 19th Century, white folk wouldn’t allow real black entertainers onstage unless they performed in Black Face makeup. One of the first Blacks to perform in Black Face for white audiences was the man who invented tap dancing, William Henry Lane AKA Master Juba. Eventually, because he was so damn good at what he did, he was permitted to perform without Black Face. (What a treat!)
So I say all of this to say that things must be put into context. Black Face is not something that invokes warm, fuzzy feelings in most Black people. It’s offensive. No we don’t think it’s funny. And yes, we wanna slap the Black off of your face when we see you in your super insensitive and highly racist Halloween costume. It’s not OK. It will never be OK. We’re telling you we don’t like it. We’ve said it over and over again. So are you listening to us at all, or do you simply not care?