Look, I get it. Halloween is coming up, and people want to dress up. There are so many celebrities one could be: Beyonce. Nicki Minaj. Herman Cain!
But I’m going to be real with you: Being an individual of a different race is fine, going as a stereotype just makes you look racist, and blackface is never, never okay.
WAMU’s Elahe Izadi is far more diplomatic than I in her coverage of offensive Halloween costumes:
Why is it problematic to dress up as a Mexican for Halloween? Jelani Cobb, African studies professor at Rutgers University, explains to CNN: “To treat a character like Batman or Superman as a Halloween costume is one thing, but to treat an entire ethnicity as a costume is something else. It suggests that people conflate the actual broad diversity of a culture with caricatures and characters.”
But not everyone agrees; negative comments flooded Melissa Sipin’s blog, which first reported about the [We Are A Culture, Not A Costume] campaign on Sunday before national media took note. Critics feel the campaign is a hyper-sensitive reaction to people who simply want to have fun on Halloween, a time to relax and check all the seriousness at the door.
Nope. That’s wrong. If the plan is to go to a party full of other people who “simply” want to have “fun” mocking people of other races, go for it, but be warned: That’s racist. If the plan is to be out in public where, say, a person of Mexican descent has to look at you dressed like an “illegal” (see poster) it’s probably time to check yourself.
And, I repeat: Blackface is never okay.