People in Racist Halloween Costumes Don't Care About Your Feelings

Julianne Hough in her 2013 Halloween costume (Pacific Coast News)
Julianne Hough in her 2013 Halloween costume (Pacific Coast News)

In a piece at Ebony magazine, Jamilah Lemieux says she's finally getting the message that some white people have been sending black people for years regarding racially insensitive Halloween costumes: They don't care about the history; they just want to do what they want to do. So stop trying to create a teachable moment — or make excuses for them.

Instead of another hand-wringing op-ed pleading with these people to please-baby-please be more sensitive come Halloween or to understand the troubling history of blackface, it’s time to face the truth: every year a surprising amount of White folks are telling us to kiss their asses with these costumes (and with many, many other actions, but we’re just talking about this one today). At this point in history, an adult who chooses to put on a blackface costume for a social occasion—who uses it in a fashion spread or to promote a makeup or for any other reason aside from some sort of recreation of historical minstrelsy that is done to examine the racism of the practice—knows it’s offensive and that people will be hurt and/or angered by it.


This is not a case of a missing “sensitivity chip.” This is someone weighing your Black history and your Black pain versus their own sense of folly and choosing themselves. And that, beloveds, is what White privilege is all about. “I hear what you all are saying, but at the end of the day, I come first.”

So, instead of fussing to make teachable moments for some grown-up who doesn’t give a damn about you, have one for yourself … recognize your enemy when she makes herself known. Stop pleading with people to see your humanity when they have made it plain that they just. don’t. care.

Read Jamilah Lemieux's entire piece at Ebony magazine. 

The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff.


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