This weekend the internet began to light up with Halloween foolery. It’s that time of year again…the time of year when silly folks seem to think that dressing up in blackface or caricatures of various races and cultures for Halloween somehow becomes cool and acceptable because, you know, it’s a holiday.
Every got-dang year… same ish, different year.
But this year is different; I’m the new parent of a 12 year old, Black daughter. I’m also Black. We’re Black (just in case that isn’t clear from the blog title). And now I have the responsibility of teaching my young, impressionable daughter that such depictions of people who look like us aren’t ok. That cosigning friends’ and acquaintances’ desire to fetishize us is not ok either. It isn’t just not ok; it’s some bull-hitsay.
I often tell people that I am proud to be an American, that I love this country and that it’s my favorite racist country. I could list a bunch of other countries where I’m sure the racism would be worst. But I was born here, and I live here and I’m so proud to be an American.
My proud, natural born citizenship notwithstanding, there’s some ish that really annoys the hell out of me about this country. Among my issues: the cavalier attitude with which we sweep issues of race under the carpet. The kind of discourse that we don’t have, nay, can’t seem to have, despite being in a “post-racial” era that features a Black president. The kind of place where my kid’s, friends’ parents may not teach them that spray browning their skin like Julianne Hough (See her OITNB fiasco) or dressing up as a Nazi officer, or plopping on a sombrero and carrying a can of refried beans to the Halloween party is all offensive. Yeah, it’s offensive; not trying to hear any excuses. These are just a few of the things that really furrow my brow.
So, now the challenge is helping my daughter to be comfortable in her deep brown skin and her coily, kinky hair and to walk proudly in her identity and her heritage and to not stand by and allow herself or people like her to be mocked and demeaned for the sake of some snickers bars for a trumped up holiday.
I would love to protect Hope from such things. But I know that I can’t afford to not coach her on what seem to still be the rules of maneuvering through this life in this skin.
I’m not digging Halloween this year.