By now, I’m sure you’re familiar with Greg Cimeno, 22 who wore the black “Neighborhood Watch” T-shirt, portraying George Zimmerman and 25-year-old William Filene who donned the blackface and a gray hoodie with bullet wounds, portraying Trayvon Martin.
As I scrolled down my news feed, I was bombarded with the usual posts–everything from pictures of newborn babies, to health nuts bragging about their burned calories and the ever-so-present selfie, littered my vision. But when I stumbled across the above photo, everything stopped.
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As a writer, seldom am I at a loss for words, but I couldn’t quite identify my emotions after seeing the photo. Anger, hurt and disrespect all flooded me at once, but after a few moments, I grew more angered that Cimeno and Filene could do this. Not only did they feel like this Halloween costume was okay, but in their mind it was totally funny and maybe even “creative.” No where did they think mocking the death of a 17-year-old Black boy would be rude and hurtful to an entire community where the death of our sons is all too familiar.
I was even more enraged at Filene’s blackface that ironically made his smirk even more pronounced and cruel. Throwing salt in the wounds of an entire race appeared to be the goal of both culprits, (which they achieved) but I immediately thought of Sybrina Fulton, who didn’t bury her baby to become someone’s Halloween costume.
So many people shook their heads in disbelief, posting the photo all over social media, calling out their blatant disregard of an entire culture’s perpetual pain. But it’s simply not okay to shrug your shoulders and umbrella these actions under ignorance.
We go through this every Halloween. Why don’t people understand that dressing up in black face is offensive!? It’s 2013! People consult Google more than they do God, so why is it that some people seem to still not have a clue?
I am Black girl from Queens and I know that I can dress up like Marilyn Monroe or Disney’s Cinderella and everyone would get it. None of those “costumes” require me to disrespect or offend anyone. White face isn’t needed when I want to dress up like a White woman.
The twerking goddess Miley Cyrus completely channeled Lil’ Kim from the 1999 MTV VMAs with her costume, and funny woman Ellen DeGeneres totally nailed her Nicki Minaj costume. None of these White women sported any sort of blackface, yet everyone understood they were both dressed up as African-American women.
Julianne Hough said she meant no disrespect when dressing up as “Orange Is The New Black” actress Uzo Aduba, but after the fifth application of bronzer, Julianne…girl. Seems like you would have thought twice!
Then it dawned on me, the reason why people don’t know about blackface or its history is because they don’t want to know. I feel like White people can live in this world and choose not to know or learn about other cultures, but their own. But what they don’t seem to understand is that they don’t live in a world by themselves. People of color are now supreme court justices, presidents, media moguls and taste makers. It’s high time White people start caring about a culture that is richer than Warren Buffet.
Whenever incidences such as this arise, the first thing people of color try to do is make the “racist” apologize and feel guilty. But for what? Those apologies are empty, a la Paula Deen. They’re only delivered to save face. We need to stop trying to cure people of their racism. I’d rather Black people know that racism is still alive, but now they’re just not concealing it. Word to Kanye.
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