trayvon - zimmerman halloween*Each Halloween we are inundated with all sorts of outrageous pictures of the year’s costumes.

The most “popular” ones usually reflect the most discussed people and issues of the previous twelve months.

With the increasing prevalence of social media across all facets of our daily lives, sharing photos and Halloween go together like hand and glove.

Despite the nature of how Halloween evolves from year-to-year, the use of blackface does not. Each and every year we’re required to re-inform, explain and teach young (and not-so-young) people the history and implications of incorporating blackface into costumes.

Some who do it claim ignorance, trying to mock our collective intelligence. Every year we have had these same discussions. Claiming ignorance is simply not a believable option any longer. It’s being done with unbridled impudence, daring a response.

Blackface is inextricably linked to segregation and minstrel shows in which black people weren’t even ALLOWED to “portray” black characters in entertainment.  Not funny then, not funny now. When one dons blackface, it is thumbing one’s nose at an era in which people like me could not even drink out of the same water fountain, be served in eateries or attend the same public schools.

And to also attach that to Travyon Martin…?

Given the controversial nature of the Zimmerman verdict, someone dressing up as a “shot” Trayvon Martin does so expecting not to encounter African-Americans. He does so expecting both safety and cover.

The reason that “Crips and Bloods,” “thug” or “Africa” parties only happen in the suburbs is because there is an expectation of cover; the belief that no REAL crips, bloods, thugs et al. will show up. These costumes aren’t being worn out of ignorance, but in defiance. They know that if ANY of the mocked actually show up… party’s over and with a quickness.

Gang signs, gold chains and blackface are way more “funny” when there’s no likelihood of real black people walking through the door. That’s the whole point.


It’s not that young people don’t know any better, it’s that they simply don’t care and assume there are no consequences to the behavior. This is where and why I love social media.

If you take the time to put on blackface, a hoodie and attend a Halloween party to generate laughs in 2013, then you should be willing to also deal with the consequences, whatever they may be. Let the chips fall where they may. From social media ridicule to even employment jeopardy, such is the cost of blatant disrespect.

I’m good with all of it. If you can wear the costume, you can also deal with the consequences.

Nobody is impeding one’s supposed First Amendment rights. Congress is not creating any law here, so this does not involve the First Amendment. Nobody is advocating for jail or even citations for “offenders.” The First Amendment refers to prosecution, not persecution. If you are ridiculed in the media… good. If your behavior brings shame to your family name, I’m good with it. You knew better and did it anyway. Let the chips fall where they may.

Get the rest of this essay from Morris W. O’Kelly at Huffington Post.