Sunday, October 26, 2014

Dear White People....PLEASE stop wearing Blackface for Hallowen [Open Letter: Side1]

Sidest note........... funny thing.  I got moved to come and type this topic today, being the weekend before Halloween....I actually meant to post this last week... only to find out, this was sitting in my "draft" folder bc i thought 10/28 last year was too late so I'll save it for next year.  Ha!

I can't stand Halloween [sometimes]  Sidenote: Let me preface this by saying, I went to school, worked and lived in the East Village neighborhood of Manhattan for 6 years.  Quantitatively speaking, that makes me the equivalent of a Ph.D in Halloweenery.  It's one of my least favourite holidays of them all.  Not for any self righteous or religious or moral reasons [Sidenote: I love when someone tries to get all allegorical with me about Halloween, meanwhile you had nothing to say about your federal "Mass Genocide" day-off about 2 weeks ago, decorate a tree in December and paint eggs on easter...but thats another conversation, I digress]  My gripe with Halloween is far too shallow, selfish and superficial for any of those legitimate reasons.

No, my beef with Halloween is that I'm a black man with locks...... Being black, in and of itself, eliminates like.....50% of conventional/ popular/mainstream costume ideas.  And I'm on the darker end of the spectrum, which I have no problem with the other 364 days, but year after year I watch some of my best friends who's much lighter, do all the fun shit like Superman, Batman, Ryu, and just about anything else.  I love him, but FUCK YOU AL!!  Everyone knows I been a Street Fighter fanboy for 21 years!  It's all good, #akuma2014   Then I have to decide, "is it worth shaving my beard for one day?" Top it off, I have locks.  I can barely find hats that fit as it is.  I cant fit these things under a swimcap, let alone a Spiderman or Batman mask.  Tally that up, and chuck 90% of my ideas out the window.  I can't be anything without being  "The Black....[Insert Character]"  or "Such n Such.....with dreds!"  It's sad, but the truth is, a short fat Filipino woman with long hair could pull off Batman WAY before I could.

Sidenote: There are verrrrrry few black protagonists in fantasy/fiction.  Now someone out there is undoubtedly tallying a list of all the the black heroes in their head to prove me wrong, not realizing that the fact that you CAN name all the black heroes, that there's even "a list," only FURTHER illustrates my point! 

I love when ppl say "oooh!! [all excited like they struck gold] you can be Bob Marley/ or a rasta."  ...........WORD??  REALLY!????  That's the best you found in the ACME catalog? Should I wear tie dye, fishnet vests and smoke a joint too?  Your brilliant and original suggestion is for one day, I should honor EVERY stereotype that I spend the other 364 days trying to dispel?   Is it that bad that the only thing dark skinned black men with locks can be.............are other...... dark skinned black men.....with locks? Halloween takes some serious creativity for us to partake.

Now that you have that framework as a foundation, my non-black brothers n sisters, you have almost infinite free range in the costume department.  You remember when your parents and teachers lied to you n said you can be anything you want to be.............well, the magic of Halloween is that for one day its actually true.  And  it's so easy!  I know so many people who dress up for Halloween for years and never buy costumes.  Just using things around the house.  In Toronto, white women: brown shoes, khaki pants, bluish green shirt, red lipstick, +orange wig = Lois Griffin, Family Guy.    Just about any comic character out there [not much black cosplay at Comicon]. Marvel will have made 3 Ironman's, 2 Thor/Captain America/Avengers movies before Black Panther makes so much as a cameo.  One of my favorite costumes of all time, one of an old roommates friend: suit, shoes, glasses, hair slicked back and when ppl asked who he was, his answer was "Better than you." 

 .........I've since stole that 2x using business cards for the punchline.

With the creative world at your oyster, everything the light touches is yours.....why is it year after year after year there is always som.....AN ARMADA OF PEOPLE [including celebrities, politicians, bosses, ceo's, and other folks in positions who you would THINK should have some "know-better"] who choose to go to the forbidden land for shits and giggles?  Why do you think its okay to dress up like a black person and paint your skin tan, brown or black?  This is one of those slippery taboos that will never be acceptable, so why even go tapdancing in that mine fields?  And even moreso, why is it that people always pick the most fucked up, nefarious black situations to do?  How many O.J., Trayvon, and other infamous black people have we seen by non black people?  Not nearly as much people wanted to be Chris Brown, until the year he beat Rihanna.  I'll even give you some secret insight that most black people don't even know [leans in closer and whispers].... I actually understand that half of the things black people accuse of being blackface....aren't actual blackface.  Google the subject, this is childsplay in comparison.  It was actually very cruel and evil.  But guess what?  That doesn't matter, it will forever strike a nerve.  So in the event you somehow didn't know, let me make this blatantly clear, in case no one ever told you.  It will NEVER be acceptable or okay for anyone who isn't black to paint their faces black brown or any other color, and masquerade as if they are.  It's even upsetting when ppl who ARE black, paint their faces to emulate someone even blacker.

And every year one question that keeps coming up, "does dressing up like a black person make you a racist?"..........  Well..........yeah... pretty kinda does... in about 80-98% of the times.   However, the greater overarching sentiment [whether you think you're racist or not] that 100% of these cases are guilty of is far more menacing:

White privilege.

What is white privilege?.....well part of it is....having no clue what white privilege is, never having to and the naivete that it impacts you or anyone else in any way.  The "normative," "universal," "standard", "average" and "accepted" typically have no reason to understand what the marginalized and disenfranchised went/goes/going through because you've never had to.  It comparable a straight, able bodied, heterosexual, wealthy white man [in shape with a full head of hair] trying to say that women have it just as good as men in the country.  Or having no idea what's wrong with a confederate flag, or naming a team Indians, Chiefs, or Redskins.  It's having no clue how or why something can be offensive to the people who are offended by it.  Taken an example from Tim Wise, us able body ppl never have to think about how we are going to get around, whether there is a ramp or elevator.  These are considerations an elderly, handicapped, crippled or even injured person has to consider and factor for every day of their life, bc something as insignificant to you as a 6" step, can potentially hinder their entire day.  Due to the lifelong conditions they have been through, [ones in which you haven't] they do not have the luxury of being oblivious to this impediment.  And here you are complaining about the ONE parking spot you can't use, with your priviledged, ungrateful bipedal walking ass. 

While we're at it, please stop attempting to enlighten black people on what we should and shouldn't be offended by.  I think that is more enraging/infuriating than whatever Halloween costume is in question.   So please, you have a few days, a work week...2-5 shipping days to change yours or someone else's opinion and more importantly, costume selection [seriously, who's worse, the person who dresses offensive or the friends who cheered them on "LOL'd", took the pic or posted it?........or those who liked it?].  Don't lose your job, end up on every news channel and website, have your social media shut down bc no one told you that you were being an insensitive a-hole and thought that somehow, someone else' pain and suffering is laughable to you and your beer buddies.

Alas, I type in vain......  Why?.... egh..... just watch the news and your timeline in the morning and for the next week or two.