BLACK VOICES

Poet Nails Why Offensive Halloween Costumes Are Never A Good Idea

"Shame on us for forgetting our life is someone else's costume."

"Black face Trayvon Martin costume with George Zimmerman counterpart. Shame on us for expecting more." 

These are the opening lines from Raven McGill's poem, "Meanwhile, in Post-Racist America," which she recited for the 2015 National Poetry Slam in Oakland, California. In it she passionately critiques people who wear offensive and racially-themed Halloween costumes and uses the disturbing Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman costumes from 2013 as an example. 

In the poem McGill explains how insensitive costumes can negatively affect people of color. "Shame on us for forgetting our life is someone else's costume," she said sarcastically. 

She also expertly points out that some offensive costumes that attempt to be provocative are actually perpetuating racist stereotypes and trivializing the experiences of people of color. "Shame on us for forgetting that it's fun and edgy for someone else to wear our face but damning for us to wear our face," she said near the climax of the poem. 

McGill sums up the ignorance of people who choose to don disrespectful Halloween costumes in the last lines of the poem when she said, "I saw the pictures and shame wasn't even a shadow in the room."  

Well said. 

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