As if “Dancing with the Stars” alumni and D-list celebrity Julianne Hough’s Halloween outfit – in which she painted her face brown in a failed attempt to make herself look like an African American character from the Netflix show “Orange is the New Black” – wasn’t enough buffoonery for one week, dozens of images of white people donning black make-up in an overtly racist manner have been popping up all over the web. While Hough subsequently apologized and delivered the standard “I didn’t mean to offend anyone” line, others have been putting together costumes and throwing parties with so-called “culturally-based” themes in order that they might put their unabashed racism on display for all their friends to see, while simultaneously claiming it’s “all in good fun.”
Of the many cruel and offensive stereotypes perpetuated in these costumes, however, there was one trio’s get-up that certainly took the cake when it came to the magnitude of how reprehensible their attire was. The trio of neo-confederate rednecks I’m referring to consists of Caitlin ‘Kt’ Cimeno, her brother Greg Cimeno, and their friend William Filene who, when not indulging in racist depictions of slain 17-year old Trayvon Martin, occupies his time with a side job robbing peoples’ motor vehicles. The controversy over their sick, demented sense of humor would never have seen the light of day had Caitlin Cinero not posted an image of the threesome online to her Facebook account with a caption boasting about how clever they thought they were. **Warning: the following image will make you want to smash your computer screen repeatedly against a wall while veins start noticeably popping out of your head!
The picture was accompanied by the incendiary caption, “Happy Halloween from Zimmerman & trayvon :)”. In response to the picture, most of Caitlin’s friends seemed to think the outfits were hilarious, with Facebook user Jasmine Reis writing, “She’s Robin Da Hood. lol that’s what my costume is lol“. Still, one user noted that it was “not cool” and another commented, “Not too funny.” To the latter Greg Cimeno replied, “Not too funny. It’s fucking hilarious!!!“. Someone by the name of John Michael chimed in with, “Lol gotta love the Zimmerman haters”, as if the whole tragedy surrounding Trayvon Martin’s murder and Zimmerman’s outrageous acquittal can be summed up to “haters.” These Cape Coral, Florida residents seem to be quite the trouble-makers. William Filene as mentioned earlier is pursuing a career in automotive vehicle theft, whereas Caitlin Cimeno obviously begrudges any Black person who expresses pride in themselves. A primary example of this is the caption she wrote to accompany an image she uploaded of a young African American girl wearing a T-shirt having BET‘s “Black Girls Rock!” TV logo on it. “First of all,” writes Cimeno, “sorry Hun but mommy lied to you & secondly if I was wearing a shirt that said something like the truth ‘white girls rock’ I would be stared at and called a racist cracker.” As well she should be. From now on she should be called Caitlin “racist cracker” Cimeno per her request. Not only is what she says a false-equivalency, it’s not even entirely true. Case in point we have pictures of pop icon Madonna on three separate occasions sporting t-shirts which read, “Italians do it better“, “Kabbalists do it better”, and “Irish do it better.” No one has ever claimed these shirts were racist and they are not. They speak to a certain ethnic pride but not to a racial superiority-complex. Italians, Irish, Jews, French, and many other groups or sub-groups are certainly classified as “white” and have been for quite some time now, yet no one cares if they celebrate or take pride in their heritage. “White pride” is another matter completely, however. “Whiteness” by definition has always been about asserting superiority and control and “white pride” when asserted is not merely about pride and heritage, it’s about claiming innate supremacy and the right to subjugate other people. That has never changed, which is why those who scream the loudest about how their somehow being deprived of “white history month” or “white girls rock” TV shows and t-shirts are almost always the ones who privately champion white supremacy the most. (Side note: Apparently Trayvon Martin in blackface costumes are all the rage this year in the white supremacist community. )
Unfortunately this shameful behavior is not restricted to within the borders of the United States by any means. A young woman named Olivia in Australia decided that for her 21st birthday it would be a great idea to invite all of her friends, who judging by the photos are all white, to what she describes as an “African-themed” birthday/Halloween party. The party attracted everyone from a space-cadet looking Cleopatra to a member of the ku klux Klan (because you know, what says “Africa” like wearing the robes of the KKK??!)
While there is nothing at all funny about these ridiculous costumes or this foolish party, one can’t help but laugh at Olivia’s rebuttal to those who would claim there was racism at her party. According to her, she chose “This is Africa” as her theme “because I have always wanted to go to Africa (to teach english) but haven’t made it there yet.” I for one pray to God that she stays her ass in Australia and leaves the Africans alone! The most humorous of all the things she says however, and there are many, is that her only intention was “to celebrate the amazing country and people.” Which country is she celebrating again? Africa is not Australia! It is not a country just because it’s a continent. In fact there are currently 55 countries in Africa. Either way, she assures us that neither she nor any of her friends meant to be racist, and she also points out (or she claims anyway) that she has a friend from Mauritania whose face was painted white, so there! “I am not a racist person at all so I didn’t think anyone could possibly take it that way,” she says. In closing, she shares her future goals of spending “2 months teaching english in cambodia in January, and can’t wait to do the same in Africa.” Wait, let me guess. She thinks Cambodia is a tiny city in the country of Asia?!
And of course we can’t leave out Europe, where just a few nights ago in Italy a huge fashion industry extravaganza was held with a costume theme which was of course, of all the themes they could have chosen, “African Disco”-themed. Everyone who’s anyone in the Italian fashion industry was apparently in attendance, including the Gabbana of Dolce and Gabbana.
I think it’s worth nothing that, almost without exception, these costumes were being proudly worn by relatively young people in their 20’s or 30’s. These people are of the same generation of which it has been said is more accepting and understanding of cultural differences and people who do not look like themselves. I have previously made the case that this is not necessarily true, and incidences such as these are just all the more proof that the era of “post-racialism”, or better yet, the era of “post-racism” is nothing more than a facade.
In closing I leave with these six images that are a part of a group at Ohio University’s ongoing campaign to promote cultural awareness, which is especially important this Halloween season.