A lot of people are mad at Toronto Maple Leafs forward Tyler Bozak for dressing in "blackface" for Halloween. For the record Tyler is white -- and in an ironic twist of fate it appears that the majority of people complaining are, you guessed it, white people.
In my opinion Bozak, dressed as a Thriller version of Michael Jackson, clearly did it all in good fun, with positive intentions. On the other side of the tracks you have got to be from another planet if you think doing something like this will not create some sort of backlash. However, knowing this and still exercising your right to express yourself through costume does not make it wrong, in this case.
I get it. I just don't understand why people really care. A lot of people are saying, "racist intent or not, this is still a dumb move." No. Yunel Escobar writing, "You are a faggot" in Spanish on his face during a game was a dumb move.
Yunel dehumanized and hurt a group of people in doing this. Bozak is hurting no one. Even considering the ridiculous and embarrassing history of slavery and minstrel shows, it's still not a dumb move by Bozak. What's dumb is that in 2012 a white guy can't dress up for Halloween as one of the most recognized and loved human beings to ever to walk our earth. It's Halloween!
It's all about fun and fantasy. I find it stranger that we celebrate blood, guts and murder on this holiday. That's weirder than a Michael Jackson fan making his face brown...not tar black, but brown. Is that really even, "blackface"? Considering my own dark complexion I guess I should be offended. But I'm not. Because I have a decent sense of humour and I recognize that no hurt, intentional or indirect, was created because a hockey player decided to have some fun and dress as an icon.
It's a weird twist that Michael Jackson spent his entire adult life trying to make his face whiter. The irony here is sweltering.
I feel that a majority of people who are not black speak out against this only to say, "shhhh, stop, don't do that! Are you crazy!? Dressing in black face...don't you dare wake the sleeping beast that is black anger!" OK, I'm having a bit of fun here, but what are non-black criers actually saying other than, "Don't paint your face black, you're going to piss black people off"?
Are people's outcries really about fighting for equality, or fear? Honestly it all kind of comes across as tattling to me. What are you really fighting for by saying no white person should paint his or her skin darker, even if it's all in good fun? There is nothing racist, or even ignorant about a white person darkening his face a couple hues to portray Michael Jackson -- a man who probably best transcended racial inequality.
"I had a horror movie makeover. Apparently this is how you look if you get caught in a bear trap in the forest." <em>Sarah Dean Assistant Entertainment Editor HuffPost UK</em>
This (slightly blurry) picture was taken in my grandparents' garden. I'm on the left pulling my very best angry witch face, I presume my little sister is laughing at our terrible knee-high white socks. <em>Carla Buzasi Editor-in-Chief Huffington Post UK </em>
I was going for the Johnny Depp Willy Wonka-look. <em>Matthew Tucker Deputy Picture Editor, Huffington Post UK</em>
I dressed as Courtney Love for a dead celebrities party...perhaps prematurely... <em>Dina Rickman Assistant News Editor Editor HuffPost UK</em>
This reminded me of Stephen King's IT - the most terrifying clown known to man. The pint in hand does soften it somewhat. <em>Matthew Tucker Deputy Picture Editor, Huffington Post UK</em>
My friend had this magic trick - a wallet that caught fire when you opened it. Great fun around the bonfire! <em>Matthew Tucker Deputy Picture Editor, Huffington Post UK</em>
Doing <em>A Clockwork Orange</em> on the cheap (I'm in the middle) <em>Sam Parker Culture Editor Huffington Post UK </em>
I'm not really one for dressing up on Halloween. I just like wearing this around the house. <em>Sara C Nelson Traffic & Trends Editor Huffington Post UK</em>
We were doing Gangnam before it even existed. The fact we made these outfits by hand demonstrates how little of our time at university we spent studying. <em>Alice Vincent Editorial Assistant, Blogs Team Huffington Post UK </em>
This was at a 'Zombie Walk' in Bristol last year. The 'dead behind the eyes' look took surprisingly little practice Chris York Reporter Huffington Post UK
I didn't have a costume ready for this party, but thankfully Tony Blair's likeness is a simple, yet terrifying disguise. <em>Jessica Elgot Reporter, Huffington Post UK</em>
A cheap nightie from Primark and a bucket of red paint, hey presto. <em>Lucy Sherriff Students Reporter Huffington Post UK</em>
While I may have the facial hair of Russell Brand, unfortunately I'm not <em>quite</em> as smooth with the ladies. <em>Ashley Percival Celebrity Editorial Assistant Huffington Post UK</em>
I wanted to go as Jack the Ripper. However, rather than dress her six-year-old as a Victorian prostitute butcher, my mother opted for the more benign wizard garb. <em>Paul Vale Deputy News Editor Huffington Post UK</em>
Not strictly for Halloween, but close enough. Dressing up as a pirate for a friend's 30th birthday. My moustache fell off two minutes earlier, but I kept hold of the sword all night. Charlie Thomas Business Reporter Huffington Post UK
Dressed as Jose Mourinho (if you squint at the picture), complete with fake tan, fake beard and fake dog in quarantine. <em>Charlie Thomas Business reporter The Huffington Post UK</em>
Ahoy there, dead pirate garb is surprisingly like my everyday attire. <em>Tahira Mirza Assistant Picture Editor Huffington Post UK </em>
A freak encounter with a squirrel resulted in this masterpiece <em>Jody Thompson Blogs Editor Huffington Post UK </em>
"This was me, circa ten years old, tapping into my fear of practicing the violin as a kid." <em>Seamus McKiernan Blog Editor Huffington Post</em>
"A friend and I dressed up as cat memes. She was Nyan Nyan Cat and I was Business Cat. Internet lovers at the party thought our costumes were awesome...but most people had no idea what we were. Both 'stumes were pretty easy to make. Felt, thread, cardboard, crayons, paper and a pair of cat ears was all it took." <em>Michelle Butterfield Associate News Editor, HuffPost Alberta</em>
"When mom decides to visit on Halloween weekend and thinks you should go to the bars at 23 years old as Avatar. Because it's her favorite holiday and she wants to play dress up. Thanks mom... just try hailing a cab with a tail and a wig." <em>Kate Balch HuffPost Live Producer Huffington Post</em>
"It was a big hit while I was still an undergrad at FSU. The only downside: fake eyelashes and residual glue gunk on the eyelid the morning after." <em>Adam Clement Social Marketing Manager Huffington Post</em>
"My wife Nicole and I both as Max from 'Where The Wild Things Are.'" <em>Jacob Soboroff Host/Producer HuffPost Live</em>
"Facial hair is always fun during halloween so I thought I'd mask the creepiness of the mustache with the hilarity of Ron Burgundy. I not only wore this costume, but assumed the character the entire evening which included a silly conversation with local police." <em>Connor Magill Associate Producer Huff Post Live</em>
Last Halloween I dressed up as Satanico Pandemonium, performed by Salma Hayek in 'From Dusk Till Dawn.' <em>Marinés Arroyo Senior Editor, Lifestyles HuffPost Voces</em>
"In 2008, after the film version of 'No Country For Old Men' was released, I went as the villain, Anton Chigurh, (played by Javier Bardem). I bought the wig from a Korean wig shop in Uptown and all the ladies there were so sad; my natural hair is long and they didn't understand that I wanted this Prince Valliant-style wig for a costume. For authenticity, I even made my own little air tank (I'm holding it off-camera) out of 2-liter bottles and garden hose." <em>Kim Bellware Associate Chicago Editor Huffington Post</em>
"My grandma made this flapper costume for me (and made most of my costumes when I was little), complete with a string of faux pearls and her screw-back earrings. I'm with my childhood best friend (a Transformer) at our neighborhood branch of the public library." <em>Kim Bellware Associate Chicago Editor Huffington Post</em>
"Here's a pic of me from last year. I needed a costume at the last minute and I dug up a prison uniform from a webseries I did, and a red wig from my old sketch comedy troupe, and came up with the idea that Little Orphan Annie ended up murdering Daddy Warbucks for the money, was caught, and is on death row. Note the black eye, teardrop tattoo and cut on her cheek (she's scrappy)." <em>Janet Varney Huffington Post</em>
"Halloween plans aside, I was, according to my mother, Batman for about three years straight as a youngster." <em>Adam Clement Huffington Post</em>
"I lived with six other guys in college and for Halloween one year we were the seven dwarves. That's me on the far left in the green snuggy. I was dopey." <em>Conor Sullivan Co-Founder/Director HuffPost Labs</em>
"Here I am as a zombie sea captain in 2011 -- though I was asked if I was supposed to be a Titanic victim, or the killer in "I Know What You Did Last Summer." My response to the latter: "I'd never want to kill Ryan Phillippe!" <em>Curtis Wong Associate Editor HuffPost Gay Voices</em>
"Here's me as Frida Kahlo in 2009. I put it together on the fly and literally spent nothing. For once, I was glad I have a slight mustache. (Though I drew in the iconic eyebrows.) Later that night, I danced with three mariachis. Good times!" <em>Elizabeth Kuster Huffington Post</em>
"My girlfriends and I were candy in 2007. It was hailing in NYC: Mind you, we were not dressed appropriately for the weather." <em>Shana Ecker HuffPost Home Editor</em>
"I was Richard Simmons when I was 16. If this wasn't tagged on Facebook I wouldn't know that was me." <em>Amanda McGowan HuffPost Style Intern</em>
"This was in 2008- Lindsay Lohan and SamRo (I'm Samantha)." <em>Camille Santochi Associate Producer HuffPost Live </em>
"Last year I went as a ringleader, though many people thought I was part of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." <em>Michelle Manetti Associate Editor HuffPost Home</em>
"I think I'm probably two in this pic and my brother is four... My mom made both of those costumes by hand." <em>Amy Marturana Intern HuffPost Home</em>
"Here's my bulldog, Charlotte, dressed up as a cat." <em>Annemarie Dooling Senior Community Editor Huffington Post Media Group</em>
"My daughter made a very cute corpse bride in 2006, until she saw herself in the mirror and was so scared that she wouldn't stop crying until we changed her costume..." <em>Simon Heseltine Director of SEO AOL</em>
"My friends and I went as troll dolls two years ago. Oh man." <em>Melissa Cronin Assistant Editor HuffPost Science</em>
"Here's a shot of me and my brother, circa the depths of the '80s. It looks like he was Billy Idol dressed as Max Headroom doing a cameo on 'Miami Vice.' I was (and still am) a gummi-bear-eating devil." <em>Tim Wallace Graphics Director Huffington Post</em>
"This is me last year, as Walter White from 'Breaking Bad.'" <em>Radley Balko Senior Writer Huffington Post</em>
"I was Patrick Bateman of 'American Psycho' outfit: In spite of the custom-made business cards, I was (ironically) asked if I was supposed to be Batman by a drunk girl at a party." <em>Adam Clement Huffington Post</em>
There are more important times to cry "racism!" today. Like when a racist group ties a black man to the back of a truck and drags him until nothing but bits of skin and bone are left, or when a minority is forbidden to date a person or is unable to obtain a job because of his or her background (opposite ends of the spectrum, but both very racist).
Please fight for black people's rights and equality when and where we need it most. Please fight for the rights of all people. Not just certain ethnicities, but fight for gender and sexual orientation issues as well. Because trust me, there are unethical practices that persist to this day, within professional and social groups. I won't mention them because a lot are pretty obvious, but are we fighting for them? People are quick to call a foul when something appears a little left of centre, but what about raising your voice on real cultural issues, and doing something about it? We are all just yappers. I'm just as guilty.
Bozak dressing as a Thriller version of Michael Jackson for Halloween is not racist; and because it inevitably would rile people up does not make it stupid. What is stupid is that this actually does rile people up. If you think what Bozak did was wrong, or this bothers you -- you need to chill out.
To the people who believe that Bozak did nothing wrong, thank you for maintaining your sanity through this trying time. However -- and I can't stress this enough -- there is a fine line! Neither I nor any other black person wants to see any white person dressing up as Rosa Parks, Rodney King, or Slave #4, for Halloween. Unless you are looking to get knocked out.
Follow Reid Price on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@Reid_Price