Clay Cane is a New York City-based writer who is recognized for his contributions in journalism. Clay is a regular contributor for various print and online publications such as The Advocate and BET.com. He is the author of the highly anticipated novel Ball-Shaped World, which is a fictionalized account of the black and Latino ballroom scene. Also, he is the Entertainment Editor at BET.com and a member of New York Film Critics Online. He can be reached at claycane@gmail.com.


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    Monday, October 29, 2007

    Halloween is the time for goblins, witches and demons, but it is also the time for racism! When are people going to realize ethnicity or race is not a costume?

    As I road the train this weekend in New York City I saw people dressed as Mexicans, Asians and sporting the ever popular Afro wig. Putting on an Afro wig or a sombrero is not a costume. Batman or Superman is a costume, being ethnic for a night isn’t—it’s offensive.

    Check out the pic below, which is labeled on http://www.costumeshopper.com/ as "Funny Mexican Costume". Funny Mexican? Is there a "dippy white girl" costume? What's even worse is seeing white folks prance around in an Afro wig, patting their fro and talking “jive”.

    The New York Times recently reported on this racism phenomenon during Halloween in their story “This Halloween, Man in Noose Wins a Reprieve”. A woman from Connecticut had a black man hanging from a tree and she thought it was a savvy Halloween prop.

    Professor Richard Lachman at the State University of New York at Albany stated to the New York Times, “'Halloween has become less of a kids’ holiday and more of an adult holiday, and one of the reasons for that, I think, is that it offers an opportunity to do things behind a disguise…Expressions of racism are unacceptable at any time, but on Halloween some people might feel there is some room for giving vent.'” Professor Lachman put it perfectly. Doesn’t it seem like people let their racism fly freely during Halloween? It’s as if the racists come out at night!

    On the subway I saw a diaphanous white woman in a Cleopatra outfit with dark make-up and bronze stockings. As if she knew Cleo was a darkie and she would only look “real” if she was in a bit of blackface. Also, men dressed as those crazy Arabs from the Middle East, hopping around in a strange accents that made them sound more like hillbilly extras from Deliverance.

    What I also noticed is that I saw NO black people dressed in costumes. Do black folks just not do Halloween? Lawd knows I wasn't in a costume and almost didn't go to a Halloween party because at first they required a costume. As a matter a fact, most of the black folks seemed to be mortified at some of the costumes and even they were having racist moments. One black guy saw a Filipino man dressed as Batman and he shouted right on the subway, “Chinese Batman—wow!”

    I did see a few Latinos in costumes, but most of them were vampires. Note: If you're brown skin and wear white face paint make-up, it does not look appropriate. Rather than looking like a vampire, you look like some reverse minstrelsy.

    The complete low of the Halloween weekend was a drunken white woman on the train who was setting her friends up for a picture. She cried with a deep slur, “Okay, you guys like imagine you’re at a hospital, you’re nine months pregnant, you give birth and the baby’s NOT WHITE! AHHHHHHH!” Everyone laughed and beamed for the picture.

    Let people know this year that this pagan’s holiday is not your day to act as if Jim Crow laws are back in effect. Rasta wigs, Afros, sombreros and any other ethnic props are not appropriate! Dress like a whore like everyone else!

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    Posted by Clay :: 1:14 AM :: 9 comments

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