Halloween costumes reveal as much as they disguise. So when white partygoers pose as shooter George Zimmerman pointing two fingers gun-style at a blackface, bloodstained Trayvon Martin over a laughing lady leprechaun for Halloween, it is time once again to remember that Halloween is no excuse for hate.
Ever the optimist, I strive to find teaching moments in even the darkest hours.
Where do we begin?
First, the blackface. White people still need to educate each other that blackface has no place in civilized society. Blackface is not "traditional" or "historic" or "makeup" for Halloween or any day of the year. Wearing blackface is as tasteless as waving a confederate flag and rebel yelling the black First Family in the White House -- and its defense including by friends of the tasteless trio is equally revolting. Simply put: blackface is unacceptable. Just don't do it. For those who say it's not about race, a thought exercise: what if a black man had dressed in "whiteface" as a white murder victim of a black defendant? Yes, you can imagine the FOX-fueled false equivalence hysteria from here.
Second, the bloodstained hoodie. If your relative was shot and you wouldn't dress up as their corpse, don't dress like Trayvon on Halloween. If you would, seek help ASAP. To those who've said "well you all wore hoodies like Trayvon" my response is -- "yes -- but without the bloodstains and blackface." Completely different to wear clothing vs to dress up like a corpse.
Third, the killer. Depictions of real life killers like Zimmerman are slaps in the face of Trayvon's family. Again, How would you feel if a relative were murdered? Would you think it remotely acceptable for someone else to gleefully pose as his or her killer? Don't do this.
Fourth, the laughing lady leprechaun. She posed with the duo, posted the photo, and defended it on social media as "just for fun"http://newsone.com/2746485/blackface-trayvon-martin-halloween-costume/ until angry members of the public found her out and she changed her profile. Maybe she is learning empathy from this episode -- I certainly hope so.
Fifth, Halloween dressing up doesn't mean dressing without conscience. Yes you are still you on Halloween -- and if you are around kids, you are a role model for them. Children will look at your costume choices to see the world you imagine for them. Costumes steeped in white male privilege reinforce the racist and sexist stereotypes we are trying to overcome.
This sad incident is only one of many. Dancing With The Stars celebrity Julianne Hough just apologized for her blackface outfit. The annual reminders colleges need to send their students not to dress in blackface or red face or yellow face demonstrate that we need more voices in the chorus of people speaking out for justice and decency. Speak out, educate, do not be intimidated by the apologists, and do not let extreme racism be mainstreamed. Hopefully there will come a time when we don't need to tell our kids that Halloween is no excuse for hate, and that blackface has no place in a civilized society.