Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Halloween unmasks our troubled history with race
by Rev. Irene Monroe
2019-10-30

This article shared 1776 times since Wed Oct 30, 2019
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email


Halloween is one of this country's favorite yearly activities. Unfortunately, Halloween can be America's scariest, too—especially for those of us seen as costumes you wear rather than the human beings that we are.

Asian Americans, Native Americans, Blacks and Muslim women in burqas, hijabs and Muslim men in turbans with beards are frequent targets of race-themed costumes. Whites donning blackface has been commonly accepted misbehavior that dates back long before it was disclosed months ago that the Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam once went in blackface as Michael Jackson in the 1980s. With anti-immigration sentiment toward Mexicans evident with the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, there will be some Halloween revelers mocking this racial group. However, those not intending to mock or to mimic yet dress up in a Mexican serape and hat or in the "Little Mexican Amigo Toddler Costume" sold on Amazon will hit racial landmines, too.

This is a country that doesn't want to confront race. Halloween—an activity that's masked with tricks and treats and playful mischief—ironically unmasks the face of the United States' troubled history with race.

It's hard not to make the connection with contemporary topics, themes and people trending in news and culture to Halloween costumes worn that year. For example, a year after Trayvon Martin's murder, a rash of Trayvon Martin Halloween costumes appeared with white people wearing hoodies, carrying Skittles and sporting gunshot wounds. That same year, in 2013, Julianne Hough, then a judge on ABC's Dancing with the Stars, wore blackface as her favorite character, Crazy Eyes in the Netflix hit Orange Is the New Black, for Halloween. Award-winning Nigerian American actress Uzo Aduba portrays Crazy Eyes.

This year we see Halloween decorations of lynching across the country. In Chesapeake, Virginia, a figure was found wrapped in black trash bags hanging from a tree. In Brooklyn, a Halloween decoration displayed children hanging from nooses. Now gone, the display was across the street from an elementary school. Here in Andover, Massachusetts—just a 30-minute drive from my home in Cambridge—a McDonald's apologized for a Halloween decoration displaying a person hanging from a tree by the neck.

In this racial climate of a resurgence of white nationalism, it's not hard to connect President Trump's recent comment about lynching to some of the hanging-themed Halloween decorations popping up across the country. In a tweet, Trump compared the House's impeachment inquiry into him to a lynching.

"So some day, if a Democrat becomes President and the Republicans win the House, even by a tiny margin, they can impeach the President, without due process or fairness or any legal rights. All Republicans must remember what they are witnessing here—a lynching. But we will WIN!," Trump tweeted.

The horrific act of lynching is a form of domestic terrorism and social control. Emmett Till, the 14-year-old African American male teen lynched in the Mississippi Delta in the summer of 1955, became this nation's iconic image of the cowardly acts of white supremacist terrorism. In 2018, the National Memorial for Peace and Justice ( informally known as the National Lynching Memorial ) opened to commemorate the thousands of recorded Black bodies lynched in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Trump's use of the racial trope essentializes and erases the particular history and context of Black struggle in America. Our present-day fight is to pass legislation to make the act of lynching a federal hate crime in this century. Also, in this climate to "Make America Great Again," Trump's use of the racial trope of lynching sadly might encourage some to taunt, jeer, frighten and even act violently toward non-white, non- Christian and LGBTQ+ Americans.

Even with the best intentions, Halloween items displaying the act of lynching ought not to bring joy nor laughter—whether intended to cause harm or not. Dany Rose just recently learned this lesson. Rose's home window display of brown cutout paper dolls hanging by their neck immediately prompted community outrage and protest. Rose—the co-director of ArtShack Brooklyn, who recently resigned from her post—offered the following apology:

"The images were based on the horror movie Annabelle, but because they were made of brown kraft paper and hanging from nooses, they were deeply racially offensive. … I understand that ignorance is no excuse and apologies are not enough, but nonetheless I want to apologize sincerely to my neighbors and community."

Some feel Halloween no longer brings joy and laughter in a "woke" culture where the tyranny of political correctness and identity politics police behavior. However, if you feel you're rocking your Halloween outfit instead of mocking an ethnic group or cultural practice, please keep these thoughts in mind: wearing the traditional clothing of another culture is not a costume. Donning "blackface" is not a mask. Dressing as a homeless person isn't funny. Adopting someone else's dialect for the evening is not cool. Purchasing the "Disguise Women's Dragon Geisha Costume" from Amazon is not okay.

Halloween is a Celtic festival. People lit bonfires and wore costumes to ward off ghosts. We can do the same without dredging up the ghosts of this country's racism.


This article shared 1776 times since Wed Oct 30, 2019
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

Gorman's inauguration poem has Black women talking 2021-01-26
- Amanda Gorman mesmerized a nation with her inauguration poem "The Hill We Climb." The beauty of her presence and the power of her words captured a country battle-scarred and looking for a lifeline. "After four years ...


Gay News

Letter: Greed overrides common sense 2021-01-25
- Jeffrey Sanker, founder of the White Party concept decades ago, is now at the center of brewing online civil war in the gay community. It was reported by some online LGBTQ media news outlets such as ...


Gay News

LETTER: Unnecessary legislation 2021-01-19
- To the Editor: At a time when Illinois lawmakers should be supporting healthcare heroes who are working tirelessly during the COVID-19 pandemic, we instead receive unwelcome new legislation that will drive up the costs of practicing ...


Gay News

OP-ED: New Year's Eve circuit parties go on despite COVID-19 travel concerns 2021-01-08
- This past New Year's Eve, thousands of gay men flocked to Mexico to attend a New Year's eve "White Party" hosted by long time party promoter Jeffrey Sanker—the host of the annual white party in Palm ...


Gay News

OPINION Where do we go from here (redux)? 2020-12-28
- The year 2020 has been a stressful one. With George Floyd's death as an inflection point about race and racism in America, an unprecedented presidential election and social unrest during an ongoing pandemic with a rising ...


Gay News

VIEWS Taking care of your mental health during a COVID holiday season 2020-11-26
By Adam Ouanes - This holiday season is unlike any before, and it leaves many people feeling unsure about how to get into the holiday spirit. It's not unusual for many people to find this time of year overwhelming, but ...


Gay News

The Amazon Trail: Rats fleeing a sinking ship 2020-11-14
- I've heard the idiom "like rats fleeing a sinking ship" often lately, and while the metaphor is apt for what's going on in the United States, at our house it's even more befitting. Merriam Webster notes, ...


Gay News

VIEWPOINT Harris stands on shoulders of giants 2020-11-09
- The struggle to get President-elect Joe Biden to the finish line first with 270 electoral college votes was unquestionably an epic battle. However, Biden's battle wasn't a century-long one like women finally winning the right to ...


Gay News

Lilly Wachowski: Refuse Fascism, at the Ballot Box and in the Street 2020-11-02
Video below - In a rare, public and political statement, filmmaker Lilly Wachowski (co-creator of The Matrix trilogy, V for Vendetta, Sense8) published this personal essay on the literary website, LitHub.com, calling on people to "Refuse Fascism, at the ...


Gay News

VIEWPOINT Is Pope Francis' support of civil unions just lip service? 2020-10-29
- Pope Francis has expressed support for civil unions in the Catholic Church. Once again, the pontiff has sent shockwaves across the globe to 1.3 billion of his followers with another LGBTQ- affirming statement. However, this one ...


Gay News

LETTER Thank you, Pope Francis 2020-10-22
- I never thought I would live to see the day when a pope would endorse civil rights for LGBTQ couples. Praise God for His Grace. Also, the many Roman Catholic individuals and organizations who worked so ...


Gay News

LETTER TO THE EDITOR Nomination of Amy Coney Barrett 2020-10-22
- Women-Church Convergence, a coalition of Catholic-rooted organizations including DignityUSA, deplores the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. We have serious concerns about the judgment of any nominee ...


Gay News

LETTER TO THE EDITOR Lambda Legal responds to nomination of Judge Barrett 2020-10-13
--From a press release - Lambda Legal sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee urging its members to oppose Judge Amy Coney Barrett. The rushed confirmation hearings began today for President Trump's nominee to fill the seat of the late ...


Gay News

LETTER Vote 2020-10-03
- President Trump, you have had almost four years to lead the United States and have failed us by your own choosing. Whether it be in foreign policy and domestic policy you have not protected the United States ...


Gay News

VIEWPOINT As a gay bipolar man, I've learned to live with suicidal thoughts 2020-10-01
- Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people ages 10 to 20. LGBTQ+ youth seriously contemplate suicide at almost three times the rate of heterosexual youth. In addition, LGBTQ+ youth are almost five ...


 



Copyright © 2021 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS







Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.