Every Halloween, I see some uninformed White person with black or brown paint on their faces.
Most times the paint is not needed (we get what your costume is without it), but you know people like to go all out. In the past, seeing White people in blackface only bothered me because I felt like it was completely unnecessary and stupid. Still, while it happens fairly often on the Internet, I had never seen a White person in blackface actually in front of me – until this weekend.
I was leaving a meeting about advancing the culture and decided to walk through Times Square instead of catching the train, when I walked past two guys with their faces painted brown while dressed up as N.W.A. Let’s consider the fact that N.W.A stands for ‘Niggas With Attitudes’ for a second.
I couldn’t believe my eyes. My heart dropped to the pit of my stomach as I thought, “These idiots are going to get themselves hurt.” I couldn’t just let them walk away, so I ran after and took a picture of them. After I snapped my image, I told them it was wrong and they probably should take that crap off their faces.
I was shocked, because I thought this type of stuff only happens in the Deep South or in the privacy of the idiots’ own Halloween parties. Then something else happened that shocked me even more than two young White boys pretending to be some “niggas with attitudes.” When I posted the photo, a lot of Black people on Twitter weren’t offended by it.
They started making excuses – clearly they didn’t read the blog we wrote two years ago on GlobalGrind. Sure, these guys weren’t Zip Coon, but you also didn’t see them try to re-enact Straight Outta Compton while lacking all the rhythm to pull it off.
Blackface is wrong, and it will always be wrong. It was wrong when Zip Coon did it, it was wrong when C. Thomas Howell did it in Soul Man, and it was wrong when Robert Downey Jr. did it in Tropic Thunder. But until we are willing to all open our eyes, or see it in person and feel your stomach do things that you only experience on a carnival ride, sadly, people will continue to play dumb for the sake of it.
You don’t need to color your face to pull off a kickass costume idea for Halloween. So again: regardless of how many Black friends you have, whether or not you intended to offend anyone, or how clever you might think you’re being…Do. Not. Do. Blackface. Ever.
PHOTO CREDIT: Universal Orlando, Twitter, Getty