Halloween is a rather unbearable time of year because of the entitlement fueled by racism and White supremacy and the "how is degrading you, your culture, your history, your appearance, your very humanity itself offensive?" stance from many White people. This is the same entitlement and ignorance that fuels them insisting upon saying “nigger.” They are not used to being told “NO” and not having the right to degrade at will, which they fear losing. (They also ignore history, language reclamation and structural power differences in regards to saying “nigger/nigga” for them versus some Black people who say “nigga” among each other.)
I knew it was going to be this way and tweeted as such last month:
One argument that surfaces is about “political correctness.” See, valuing a person of colour’s humanity is so outlandish, so extreme, that it needs a political title for the action and one that is thereby rejected. It is not boilerplate to recognize the humanity of a person of colour. It is a strange political act that infringes upon their freedom? To them, yes. This is how utterly dehumanizing White supremacy is.
Inherent in White supremacy is the lack of creativity yet the abundance of exploitation. The idea that reducing someone’s actual life, customs, aesthetics, experiences, history and humanity into a one-dimensional costume is “creativity” is beyond preposterous. In the same way that they think cultural appropriation—blanket theft and being culture vultures—proves their “creativity” (cultural appropriation is 365 days a year of Halloween for profit, actually) is the same way that they think finding the most simplistic yet degrading way to turn real people into their costumes is “creativity.”
The idea that White celebs see White celeb after celeb do blackface (or other culturally insensitive and racist costumes) and the pain it causes Black people (and other people of colour) and still do this year after year reveals two things. Inability to feel compassion for people of colour and entitlement via White supremacy overrides the concern of risk to their own careers and public personas, careers that admittedly are supported by the status quo anyway, hence little worry.
For Whites who are not in the public eye, which is most Whites, it never occurs to them to think about why is it so critical to their Halloween experience to degrade a person of colour? Is fun only possible for them through dehumanization? Possibly so. Even on a day that should be fun for most, they have to remind the entire country of White supremacy, that it does not take a break, not even for a second, not even to try to have fun. White supremacist thinking can only support external individualism. It doesn’t support introspection. It doesn’t support examining institutional racism and all of its tentacles into every space. (Everything is an “isolated incident” to them.) It doesn’t have space for consideration that many people of colour are degraded every single day, and then once a year, the degradation becomes the largest celebration possible. And unfortunately, some people of colour think that siding with the abuse means that they are “open-minded.” Actually, it doesn’t.
It got so much more worse this evening during this season of White supremacist psychological warfare and abuse that are the weeks leading up to Halloween. I just saw a costume where two White/White passing men (see anti-Blackness and colourism as to why White passing has privilege when White supremacy exists in opposition to Blackness) re-enacted George Zimmerman murdering Trayvon Martin. It includes blackface, the hoodie, a bloodstained chest area and fingers pointed as a gun by the man wearing the “neighborhood watch” t-shirt. (View photo at your own risk. It is as terrible as you can imagine.) This is pleasure for people? If it wasn’t enough seeing Julianne Hough’s blackface mocking “Crazy Eyes” on Orange Is The New Black, and Whites complaining about colleges (i.e UC Boulder, University of Minnesota) that don’t want their students to wear racist costumes to again, the cry for “political correctness” when it’s a basic call for respecting the humanity of people who aren’t White, a Trayvon reenactment had to occur for Halloween.
I already know that this holiday is a game for them, a way for them to remind us of the depth of their cultural sociopathy and White supremacy. Right after the “not guilty verdict” I said that the verdict going their way wouldn’t be enough. That the pain it causes us would bring them pleasure, that they would even commodify Trayvon Martin’s death. So I did expect something like this to surface. Doesn’t hurt any less seeing it just because I knew it would come. But then again, that’s what they want. Inflicting pain and benefitting from oppression gives them the time and space not to ever be reflective, introspective, or responsible. James Baldwin alluded to this in his writing:
I will state flatly that the bulk of this country’s white population impresses me, and has so impressed me for a very long time, as being beyond any conceivable hope of moral rehabilitation. They have been white, if I may so put it, too long; they have been married to the lie of white supremacy too long; the effect in the personalities, their lives, their grasp of reality, has been as devastating as the lava which so memorably immobilized the citizens of Pompeii. They are unable to conceive that their version of reality, which they want me to accept, is an insult to my history and a parody of theirs and an intolerable violation of myself.
Oh and I know the usual, incredibly predictable derailment bingo or the same annual excuses will come: “Blackface isn’t racist!” “Mentioning our racism makes you the real racist!” “it’s not a big deal, just accept my
dehumanization simple costume!” “Well some people of colour wear other cultures’ costumes so I should be able to though structural power means less consequences for me and more degradation for you!” “Oh get off your high horse and discuss more important issues; I mean this is your only blog post, the other 2,721 don’t count.” “Only Tumblr cares about racism and dehumanization. This was never mentioned prior to 2007 when the site was found!” “Oh please…please I beg you people of colour, accept my ignorance and petulance. I have to degrade you. It’s the only way I can enjoy myself on Halloween!” “I will wear whatever I want and you will not stop me nor will you critique my racism! It’s a free country!”
This country that they refer to as “free” was built on genocide and stolen labor and oppression, a debt for which can never be repaid. In response to this, they further degrade our cultures and races (in ways that directly connect to oppression and are oppression) and prove themselves to be what they are meant to be in a White supremacist society. Tyrants. Non-empathetic. Ahistorical. Anti-introspective. Empty. While I am not personally interested in Halloween, for once I wish the people of colour that I know and talk to and everywhere could enjoy this holiday without literally dreading in what ways we will be degraded and how wide will the smiles on Whites’ faces be as they do it.
(Update 3 hrs after initial posting: a link with the names/more photos of the people who used the murder of Trayvon Martin as a Halloween costume.)