It seems that with every new Halloween there is a new opportunity for some appalling racist act or another. Locally, we had such an event at Hamline University, and nationally, where else: The Bush Administration.
The Hamline event … and my source here is Minnesota Public Radio, something I heard in the car … involved a Halloween party in which several college boys dressed up in black face as primitive savages. They and the girls who helped them are in significant trouble. I heard about this while driving Julia (seventh grade) to school. She objected: She did not understand the nuanced language. She had never heard the term “black face” and the radio announcer did not use the terminology I use above. So if you did not know about Jim Crow and black face entertainment and such, and you were only twelve, you might not get it. So she objected that Halloween is a time you are supposed to wear a costume, so why would they get into trouble.
I assure you that at present Julia is up on her 19th and 20th century history of Jim Crow and black face entertainment, and she’s in full agreement that something obnoxious happened at Hamline.
The white house event was similar. Julie Myers, Assistant Secretary in Homeland Security, awarded “most original costume” at an office party to a man dressed in dreadlocks, black face, and wearing a prison costume.
Of course, she released a statement saying she regretted the incident bla bla bla. Go read about it here, if you like.