Article written

  • on 30.10.2013
  • at 01:00 PM
  • by Kevin Hind

The first rule of Halloween: Blackface and “Africa” – themed parties are out 0

Halloween, with its increasingly global appeal, is here again and that means children and adults alike get to dress in flamboyant costumes and overindulge on their vices.

But through costumes and theme parties associated with this day, people attempt to take on identities other than their own. By assuming new identities, the characters and pop culture icons that are resurrected and creatively imagined demonstrate current social trends and more importantly act as a unique reflection of how people see each other. The ingenuity of make-believe can be amazing, but sadly, far too often, costumes become distasteful reminders of social discord (and the reason for its perpetuity) as well as the pervasiveness of ignorant and blatantly racist stereotypes.

A number of attempts have been made this year to advise revelers in making wise costume choices. There are lists of racist costumes to avoid and even examples of people pulling off costumes of characters and celebrities with a different cultural background than their own.

One hard and fast, non-negotiable rule to keep in mind when creating your Halloween masterpiece: blackface is never hip. Never. If you have any questions there’s a handy flowchart that can help.

Yet all the discussion on social media hasn’t stopped some ignorant people from shamefully embracing racist representations of other cultures. Considering “Africa” is an imagined fantasy-land in many peoples’ minds limited to wild animals, exotic “tribes” and colonial nostalgia, any “Africa”-themed party or costume will likely be a serious disaster. For some reason, ideas of Africa, when recycled and represented by outsiders, have a sinister tendency to take the form of the most simplistic and exaggerated stereotypes.

Let’s take the “Disco Africa” party thrown in Milan, Italy by a renowned fashion photographer Giampaolo Sgura on Saturday, October 26. According to one enthusiastic blogger who was at the event, “all fashionable people in Milan have been preparing for this event for a month.” Even the famous fashion designer Alessandro Dell’Acqua showed up (he’s the guy above with the zebra woman). He was in blackface dressed as the golliwog mascot of an old racist Italian licorice commercial … and he wasn’t the only one. Dell’Acqua’s images have now been removed from the websites that first celebrated them. At a time when black models already feel tokenized and discriminated against on the runway, and while the Italian state lets migrants from African countries die in its waters, let’s take a look at how the elite of Italy’s fashion community perceive “Africa”.

continue reading on Africa is a country

By Zachary RosenAfrica is a country 

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