In 2013, we often find ourselves living in the seemingly equal “post-racial” America. However, take a quick glance at this year’s crop of Halloween costumes and that reality is quickly shattered. Privilege has always manifested itself in Halloween through cultural appropriation, trivializing complex traditions and cultures to limited stereotypical tropes. Privilege in 2013 Halloween, however, takes a racially morbid tone as multiple white people have dressed up as Trayvon Martin: complete in blackface and a bloodstained hoodie.
Privilege is doing blackface and condoning the historical dehumanization and belittlement of African Americans for racist entertainment. Blackface affirms white superiority, and thus, white power. Privilege is coupling your Trayvon Martin costume with a friend dressed as George Zimmerman and ignoring the systemic racism that plagues our criminal justice system. Systemic racism in the justice system places more value on white than black lives. Privilege is wearing a bloodstained hoodie and further policing the process of gender for Black masculinity. As Patricia Hill-Collins states in Black Sexual Politics, Black masculinity has a strict template in which it is acceptable, which is usually controlled by white authority (169). If you go outside that template, there are dire consequences, as showcased in the “hoodlum” Trayvon costume.
Blackface is never appropriate, so remember when you’re choosing your costume for Halloween this year to check your privilege, and ask yourself what exactly are you representing.
Hill-Collins, Patricia. “”Booty Call:Sex, Violence, and Images of Black Masculinity.” Black sexual politics: African Americans, gender, and the new racism. New York: Routledge, 2004. 149-180. Print.
PHOTO: Take from buzzfeed.com