It happens every Halloween, like clockwork. Some clueless white person, whether it be a famous actress like Julianne Hough or an Alabama schoolteacher from a small town, wears a costume that includes blackface. It goes viral. The internet is outraged. Explainers pop up about why blackface is not OK, ever. Apologies and pseudo-apologies (”I’m sorry that you’re offended”) are issued.
At this point, it has been thoroughly established on nearly every corner of the internet that blackface is bad. The history of blackface, with its roots in racist minstrel shows, has been outlined. The racist implications of blackface, the way it stereotypes, exaggerates and demeans black features, has been explained. In other words, the information is out there. It’s all over Facebook timelines and Twitter feeds. Therefore, anyone who willfully chooses to don blackface (and other culturally appropriative costumes) this Halloween is making a concerted effort to be stubbornly ignorant.
If you’re planning to wear blackface this Halloween, take a step back. Look at your life; look at your choices. Is it really necessary to blacken your skin in order to portray a black character or celebrity? Do you truly feel that doing this isn’t demeaning to the people who have to walk in this skin every day and don’t have the luxury of washing it off at the end of the night? If you consider all these things and you still decide to go for it: congratulations, you’re being racist.
So this Halloween, blackface wearers, you do not get the benefit of the doubt. Do not act indignant, shocked, or surprised if you get called out for wearing a racist costume. Don’t say that you didn’t know blackface was bad. Don’t compare wearing blackface to something harmless like wearing a wig. Don’t claim innocence. Don’t complain about political correctness. Don’t pull the “reverse racism” card. Just admit it. Just admit that you knew your costume was messed up, and you decided to wear it anyway.