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Black Face

Halloween is super scary what with all those zombies, vampires, witches and goblins. Even scarier are the sexy Bob Ross and Mr. Rogers costumes that are said to be all the rage this year. But beware! Dressing up as someone from a different culture is the most frightening of all—the mother-of-all-spookiness. (I assure you there was no racist pun intended.)

There are a lot of choices for Halloween costumes. You can dress up as Queen Elizabeth, Donald Trump, Stormy Daniels, Bill Clinton, Monica Lewinski, JFK, Marilyn Monroe, James Comey, Adolf Hitler or Papa Smurf and nobody will bat an eye. For that matter you can be a bat or an eye and nobody will, well… bat an eye. But impersonate Moana, Mulan or Aladdin (who are, by the way, ficticious figures) and you’re basically a horrible, hideous racist. Ask Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. And heaven forbid you mimic your favorite black sports hero or rock star—I’m not sure if that includes Michael Jackson—it all depends on which decade you're depicting. What about dressing up as an Asian or an Indian? Nuh uuh. Better to be an Australian or a Cowboy. What about being a mime? Nope, I wouldn’t risk offending someone with white face. Oh wait… I think being a mime is safe territory, even though they usually depict silly dimwitted silent people. On the other hand, you might offend the mute, because quiet people are people too.

Now I know it is terrifying to question the audacity of someone who pretends to be someone of a different race. I might be the worst racist in history but in all innocence, I don’t get what all the hoopla is about. I asked my daughter—who incidentally is black, and she didn’t know. She did tell me about going to a Halloween party where a guy had dressed up as a rapper. He wore an afro wig, some gold chains and dark face makeup. When he saw my daughter come in he was mortified. He immediately took off his costume and apologized profusely for offending her. Dressed as a Grecian Goddess, she granted her forgiveness, but she wasn’t offended, just curious. In fact, she suggested I google black face, which I did.

I now know that people are going to be offended beyond forgiveness for darkening their face to depict someone who was made fun of a whole lot of years ago. And the unforgivable idea has caught on and extended to other cultures. My own comprehensive research has revealed an explanation I can understand, which is this: Since the vile days of slavery, skin has taken on a characteristic beyond color. It’s manifested in skin depth, or rather in the lack thereof.

Since my own skin has genetically become thick and wrinkled, please feel free to dress up as a sexy gray-haired old crone for Halloween this year. You can call it Old Sexy Face, and I promise I won’t be offended and resort to calling you a racist. But I must caution you against dressing up as one of the Supremes. That would be much too scary and could cost you dearly. Like the price of your profession.