Saturday, November 1, 2014

Halloween Racism.....Am I Overly Sensitive or Just Selectively Sensitive?

 Another Halloween has passed.  Another night of over sugared children and if you are old enough (or young enough depending on how you look at it) another alcohol induced night.

I've never been super invested in Halloween.  My efforts in finding costumes have always been minimal and as a kid I had tunnel vision in regards to the candy I planned on getting that night.  But in the last few years, I have noticed that Halloween seems to be a night of exceptions.


There has always been the joke that Halloween is the one night of the year where it is "acceptable" for a girl to dress like a slut and (maybe) still be respected the next day.  But I noticed that Halloween seems to also be the time where people think unfortunate events are appropriate costumes and themes.

Now don't get me wrong, there have been plenty of inappropriate costumes that were not race related, such as the two British girls that dressed up as the doomed Twin Towers. However, when anyone voiced their disgust at the costumes all seemed to be in agreement.  When it is race related, lines can be blurry.
At Fort Campbell, a military family decided it was a good decision to hang dummies in their yard.  What seems to divide conversations is the fact that the heads were black trash bags.  It is no secret that the hangings of African Americans/black people are deeply rooted in American history. So it is understandable why people would associate this scene with a racial insensitive act, whether the bags had been black or not.

I don't know what race the family is that displayed these Halloween "decorations", but I think it is safe to assume they were not black.  My personal thoughts is that the scene is inappropriate in a family neighborhood especially since it doesn't seem to reflect any horror theme.  Maybe if there had been some sort of movie like scene then I would be less "offended" by the hangings.

A friend of mine told me she sat on the fence with her thoughts of the display and the whole racial debate and sort of laughed as she told me.  I don't know why, but on the inside I was slightly bothered by her response.  But I have to be honest, I wondered if it bothered me because she isn't black or because she found humor in it all?

Don't get me wrong, love her to death and I know she is not racist.  But it makes me wonder if I become sensitive to things when it is someone outside of my race being insensitive (selectively sensitive) or am I just being overly sensitive about racist things in general?
I see costumes that probably should be automatically offensive no matter who is wearing the costume, such as the Ray Rice and the doll costumes.  But the first time I saw this costume it was a black male depicting the the athlete's well documented mistake.  I didn't necessarily find it humorous or clever, but I wasn't automatically offended by the depiction of domestic violence. However, when I saw the flood of white males depicting the scene, quite a few in black face, and this picture above.....a light switched flipped in my head.

Over the last couple of years, I have noticed that we as black people are not the most unified of minority groups.  We divide over the dumbest of things: hair, economic class, "being ghetto", etc.  However, I noticed we can be quick to unify when under "attack" by another race especially if they are white.  The best comparison I can think of is like family trash talk.  We can call our own families crazy names or criticize their life choices, but the moment an outsider chimes in we are quick to defend that family member like no other.

To some extent, I think that is the same with all the racist moments, well at least for me.  When we make mistakes as black people, having someone on the "outside" make fun of those mistakes is harder to swallow. I mean, who wants to look in the mirror when we know we look like hell? Whether they intend to be racist or just ignorant is another debate.  I am sensitive to my race being reduced down to a joke for some people who don't even have a black neighbor let alone a understanding of any black history.

So in the end, I would say I am selectively sensitive to racist moments.  Not everything is about race, but sometimes I can't help but to see it that way when it is feels so obvious.

So what are you when it comes to racism? Overly sensitive or Selectively Sensitive?

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