It’s that time of the year again – the time for poor costume decisions. Once again, some member of the “Hollywood elite” thought it would be OK to dress in blackface. Julianne Hough, who rose to celebrity status after years of performing on Dancing With the Stars, had the bright idea to dress up as her favourite TV character Crazy Eyes from the series “Orange is the New Black”. The costumed involved the darkening of Hough’s skin and hair to match the ethnicity of the character. In other words – Hough went blackface.
Even more surprising is that she wasn’t the only person who made the poor decision to dress in blackface this year. While watching my local news tonight, I saw a story about a Caledon vice-principal who chose to go in blackface for his Mr.T costume. Really? –Really? A man who’s job is to set an example for children. Did not see that one coming. At the same time, I can’t believe that there wasn’t one friend, family member, neighbour, or mailman around to tell the person that going in blackface is a bad idea.
It seems as though a majority of the people who dress in blackface are doing it as a tribute to their favourite person or character – not as a type of hate crime. However, several experts – along with millions of people – say that dressing in blackface is never ok. Ever. In a recent blog posted by The Globe and Mail, writer Caroline Alphonso explains that “blackface dates back to the 1850s when white actors would put on dark face paint to portray often racist caricatures of black people”. She goes on to say that “it has a long history of being offensive because of it’s ties to slavery”.
With such deep-rooted ties to slavery and racism – it’s a shock to hear that there are still individuals who believe dressing in blackface is acceptable. Yet – every year, like clockwork, headlines about celebrities or university students sporting racist costumes start popping up.
You’d think that we’d catch on – you know, with history repeating itself and everything. Sigh.
At the end of the day, there’ll still be someone, somewhere that will dress in blackface for Halloween 2014.
How do I know? It’s simple math: