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You can always count on Halloween to inadvertently give us a terrifying look into just how little progress our nation has really made in the area of race relations. It happens when, inevitably, a celebrity or some other less important but equally stupid individual decides that Halloween, in addition to being an excellent excuse to dress like a slut, is the perfect time to give blackface a try.
Some instances are just blatantly racist, like this Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman costume combo that's been circulating online in recent days:
Kill yourself next!
That should go a long way toward destroying any faith you may have had in the misconception that race is no longer an issue in this country. It's a huge issue and, as some celebrity costumes in recent years have demonstrated, it's one that a lot of people still haven't looked into much. Case in point: How did former Dancing With the Stars pro and deflector of "Ryan Seacrest is gay" rumors Julianne Hough not realize that this was one of the worst ideas in celebrity costume history?
"Orange is the new blackface!" said every Twitter account in America.
After the controversy broke, Hough immediately apologized and explained that she was not aware that white people putting on makeup to look like a black person is generally frowned upon. And honestly, how is she supposed to know when we just damn near gave Robert Downey Jr. an Oscar for doing the exact same thing?
In all fairness, he is a man.
That's about as mixed as messages can possibly get. Still, it's always a little bit unsettling when, after all these years, you learn that there are still people out there who are unsure about the appropriateness of this kind of thing. The Julianne Hough incident is especially troubling in that, instead of being a solo decision, her costume was actually part of a large group.
Their crime ... stupidity.
Did not a single person in that group think to yell out, "Oh, hey, just a heads up, that's racist as shit!" as Julianne Hough was slathering black makeup on her face to hit the town? Obviously, the answer is "no," which tells you we're a long way away from unfortunate incidents like this one being a thing of the past.
This should be an especially active year for racist Halloween costumes, as a highly contentious health care bill has Republicans and Democrats alike scrambling to come up with the best Halloween costume representation of the abject chaos and technical glitches that have plagued the new insurance plan in its earliest stages. Unfortunately, most are looking something like this so far:
Oh boy ...
That, apparently, is Slate editor Dave Weigel, likely making everyone at that party unspeakably uncomfortable with his choice of costume. As it turns out, even wearing a Halloween mask of a black face sets off the "potential racist" alarms in a lot of people, because those are exactly the kind of accusations being tossed Dave Weigel's way in the wake of that unfortunate costume choice.
Fucking BuzzFeed, man.
This is the kind of thing that's turning up already, and Halloween hasn't even arrived yet. Sure, it's just a day away now, but have no doubt, that's plenty of time for the racists of the world to up the Halloween costume ante, and there's no reason to believe they won't.
Honestly, there's nothing terrifying or terrible about this final entry. Quite the opposite, really. What's posted below is video I took of an adorably protective pup that I stumbled upon at a Halloween party over the weekend. He's a good little boy. After taking a stroll through America's growing fascination with blackface, it seemed like ending on a pet video was the best and most logical next step. So, here you go ...
Happy Halloween, America. What do you say we try to not be a bunch of fucking racists this week?