by Thanu Yakupitiyage
Several days after Halloween, stories are still coming in about people costuming in blackface. This time Applied Research Center intern, Thanu Yakupitiyage, describes government officials playing racist on Halloween.
Halloween long ago lost its original intent of being the day that all the spirits and spooks come out, when kids would dress up as ghosts, witches, and skeletons to go trick-or-treating down the lane. Instead, it has become just another day of excess corporate consumption and an all-out costume day, where costumes vary from cartoon characters to celebrity impersonations, to ‘sluts’, ‘Red Injuns’, and even ‘Blackface’.
I can’t help but cringe in the aftermath of Halloween as more and more stories come out about people who had the audacity to be festive in ‘Black Face’ costumes. College campuses across the U.S are reporting such costumes, with some campuses taking disciplinary actions, while others are letting it slide. Most reports quote abashed responses from the costume wearers and their defenders stating, “People misunderstood” and “It wasn’t supposed to be offensive whatsoever.”
The Black and White Minstrel Show Photo courtesy of the British Film Institute
The most ironic and preposterous of all these incidents is the recent news story that an employee of the Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency dressed as a prisoner with dreadlocks and dark skin make-up at the agency’s Halloween party! The costume judges at the party even noted his costume for “originality.”
I guess it would be too much to assume some sensitivity amongst employees of the agency that is directly responsible for conducting raids at work sites employing undocumented workers, as well as detaining and jailing violators of immigration and customs law.