UPDATED: 12:24 p.m. EDT, Nov. 1, 2019 —
Political Halloween costumes have been all the rage these past few years since Donald Trump was elected. So it’s a no-brainer wonder that with racial tensions at a fever pitch in America, some people of color could decide to get a little more creative than usual with their costumes this time around.
Case in point: the White privilege costume, which requires just two items – white makeup and a White privilege sign to let unwitting trick-or-treaters know exactly what they’re looking at. The apparent trend went viral in 2017 when a pair of Black men covered their faces with White makeup and donned “Make America Great Again,” just in case there was any doubt what they were going for.
The since-deleted Facebook post showing the two in white privilege costumes had been shared thousands of times with more before it was taken down at some point between then and now. Obligatory outrage ensued in the comments section. The costumes were both similar to and a far cry from the usual blackface sported by white folks who always claim ignorance about the negative racial connotations associated with the look.
A quick search across the internet showed that there were others wearing similar costumes in recent years.
While the men in White privilege Halloween costumes in Minnesota deserve to be mentioned, last year’s offerings seem to have this year’s beat. Who could forget this OG one?
Nick Cannon in 2014 also got in on the act – literally: He said it was for a role.
We also can’t forget about the seminal Wayans Brothers movie, “White Chicks,” either.
It probably doesn’t need to be said, but whiteface is just not a racial thing at all. It pales in comparison to blackface (see what we did there?), which has its origin in America’s sordid, racist history, and was used by white people to entertain other white people while attempting to mimic Black people with exaggerated facial features.
Only time will tell (today) whether the trend of white privilege costumes will persist, but considering the racial climate of this country, chances are pretty good that we will see a handful of those types of get-ups for Halloween 2019, and beyond.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly referenced the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota. That is the location where signs reading, “It’s OK to be white,” were posted last year. The text of this story has been updated to reflect this correction.