‘Political Correctness and Control Freaks Are Ruining Halloween’

“Canadian schools are wrestling with how to guide students and parents towards Halloween costumes that aren’t considered ‘offensive’ or ‘culturally insensitive’.

“In early October, a Canadian school board emailed a checklist “Is my costume appropriate?” to parents planning their children’s Halloween costumes. Fuschia Martians, mythical creatures, and animals got the all clear.

“On the what not to wear list for 31 October — cowboy and Indian costumes, slaves, terrorist, gypsy, Rastafarian and “urban ghetto resident”.

“The checklist from the ‘Conseil scolaire Viamonde’, which oversees 51 schools in Ontario, was criticised as an example of political correctness gone haywire. But school board spokeswoman Claire Francoeur said the guidelines, first sent out in 2016, has generally garnered positive reactions from parents.

“She says complaints mostly stemmed from stressed parents frustrated at “having another thing to think about” or who had hoped to recycle old costumes that failed the checklist.

“The board believes strongly in its values of “respect for each other” and that includes Halloween, Francoeur says.

We live in a society that has changed a lot in the past 10, 15 years,” she says. “So this is another change.”

“Educators are trying to navigate the holiday where costumes must be neither too gory nor too scary, as well as ‘age-appropriate’ and ‘culturally sensitive’.

“In Winnipeg, a primary school became so bogged down in debate it scrapped Halloween altogether.
The date 31 October is now being celebrated as “tie and scarf” day, one of four themed costume days the school settled on, instead of celebrating Halloween…

“Costumes have become a fraught issue on Canadian university campuses, too.

“Student unions have taken steps to avoid controversies like the 2014 one at Ontario’s Brock University, where ‘white’ students {How ‘white’?} dressed in blackface as a Jamaican bobsleigh team and won a prize for a get-up decried as ‘racist’ {by a handful of fanatics}.

“Brock University’s student union now ‘vets’ {‘censors’} the costumes of people attending their annual Halloween party and refuses entry to participants who don’t to comply with ‘costume rules’.

“The no-no list includes: black face, traditional or religious head dresses, geisha costumes, and ‘Day of the Dead’ makeup.

“Last November, Queen’s University said it would investigate after photos of students at a party dressed as Buddhist monks, Middle East sheiks and Vietcong were published online, sparking controversy.

“At Waterloo University, the student union has launched an “I am not your costume” social media campaign.

Making someone else’s culture and/or identity a caricature for you to wear for one night is a terrible costume idea“,

the group says on its website.
{Why? Just because poorly-educated, politicized children say so?}

“But not everyone thinks dressing up as someone not of your culture or race is automatically problematic.

“Ottawa writer Kate Jaimet wrote an op-ed for the ‘Toronto Star’ — provocatively titled “The Halloween ethno-police frighten me” — after her four-year-old daughter was told she couldn’t dress as a “Native princess“.

The message my daughter got was that she could not pretend — could not even imagine herself — to be a Native person“, Jaimet wrote.
{That’s aboriginal racism in action…}

“Jaimet says she heard from some ‘indigenous’ {‘descendants of Siberian settlers’} readers who explained to her why they felt the costume was ‘inappropriate’…

I’ve realised that a child’s Halloween costume is not a hill to die on {?} and that if agreeing {with the racist concept} that non-‘indigenous’ people shouldn’t dress up as ‘indigenous’ people for Halloween is part of what it takes to have better race relations in this country, then I can accept that“, she told the BBC.
{Then you are also part of the problem. Legitimizing one ethnicity’s racial bias legitimizes ALL racial bias…}

But I don’t think that we should generalise that to saying that no child should wear a costume from any different culture, or that no artist should represent different cultures in their work, or that no one should incorporate the traditions or wisdom of other cultures into their lives.”
{Then why do you grant this only to so-called ‘indigenous’ people? You are discriminating against everyone else…}

“Jaimet’s daughter eventually dressed as an angel.
{Unfortunately, it is these compromises by people who know better that end up legitimizing bigotry…}

“At ‘Conseil scolaire Viamonde’, students who show up in costumes that are “subject of discussion” aren’t sent home. Instead, they’re used to start in-class ‘conversations’ {‘indoctrination’}.
Schools and boards across Canada have since reached out to Viamonde asking for copies of the checklist.

For people who say we’re alone in this — I don’t think so“, says Francoeur.
{Unfortunately, you’re right…}

‘Costume malfunctions elsewhere’
–“Wesleyan University in Connecticut posted a flier advising students to avoid costumes with dreads, afros or anything that might “trivialise human suffering, oppression, and marginalisation“.
{Because everyone with dreads or an afro is a victim of oppression? Talk about stereotyping…}

–“A ‘white’ student {How ‘white’?} was expelled from a fraternity at the University of Central Arkansas for wearing blackface.

–“At Texas’s Baylor University, students dressed up as maids and construction workers for a Mexican-themed “Cinqo de Drinko” fraternity party. The whole fraternity was suspended…”

–‘Have Halloween costume bans in Canada gone too far?’,
Jessica Murphy, BBC News, Toronto, 29 October 2017


“The singer Joni Mitchell startled her friends by appearing at a Halloween party 40 years ago disguised as a black man in pimp-like garb. It would be unacceptable today but times were different then, her friends argue. Others disagree. Whichever view you take, her black alter ego was a reflection of her intense identification with black music, writes Kris Griffiths.

“It’s Halloween 1976, and eminent session bassist Leland Sklar is throwing a fancy dress party at his Los Angeles home for fellow musicians and record industry types, including producer Peter Asher and drummer Russ Kunkel, who would later appear in “This Is Spinal Tap”.

“However there’s one lone guest loitering in the background, whom no-one seems to know, everyone thinking he’s someone else’s friend — a svelte black man in a zoot suit with matching chapeau, meticulous afro, wide moustache and big, dark shades. While everyone has brought wives and partners, this pimp-like character has slunk in unaccompanied without introducing himself, and appears content to observe proceedings quietly from the corner after helping himself to the buffet.

“Rock photographer Henry Diltz, more used to shooting the likes of Hendrix and Zappa, inadvertently captures the besuited wallflower on film, while snapping his own gypsy-costumed wife. The gatecrasher looks startled in the light of his flash.

“Not long afterwards the host, Sklar — still oblivious to this guest’s identity despite asking around — finally approaches and asks if he’s at the right party.

“Only then, does the interloper remove his sunglasses and wig, revealing his true identity: It’s Joni Mitchell, world-famous folk music star, a week away from her 33rd birthday.

“What makes the discovery even more shocking is that not only is everyone there a friend or acquaintance, many of them have played on her albums, while one, JD Souther, is an ex-lover. None of them had seen through the disguise.

She dressed up like that to see if she could fool her friends and boy, did she“, says Diltz. “Everyone in that room was her friend and none of us got it. She was proud that she could pull that off.”

She stayed in character for most of the evening“, continues Sklar. “She’s an amazingly gifted artist and it came through in this persona. We laughed about it over the years.”

“Joni’s alter-ego, who she christened “Art Nouveau”, would appear on the cover of her next album, “Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter”, released in 1977, and she would intermittently slip into this guise over the next few years. To this day, many record-owners have no idea that the strutting black dandy on that sleeve is Joni herself.

“Forty years later, she remains one of the most acclaimed artists of the last half century, a former Toronto street busker turned voice of a generation, combining inventive melodies and chords with poetic lyrics. She ranks alongside compatriots Neil Young and Leonard Cohen as a virtuoso songwriter, and is cited as a significant influence by artists including Kate Bush, Elvis Costello and the late Prince.

“So why had Joni, with the world at her feet, chosen this particular…blackface guise?

“A decade or so later she put it down to a chance encounter that occurred when she was out costume-shopping for the party.

I was walking down Hollywood Boulevard (when) a black guy walked by me with a diddy-bop kind of step, and said in the most wonderful way, ‘Lookin’ good, sister, lookin’ gooood’,” she told ‘Q Magazine’ in 1988.

His spirit was infectious and I thought, I’ll go as him. I bought the make-up, the wig… sleazy hat and a sleazy suit and that night I went to a Halloween party and nobody knew it was me.”

“But this glosses over how deeply Mitchell identified with black musicians and songwriters — to the extent that some viewed her as being a black man trapped in a white woman’s body.

I don’t have the soul of a white woman“, she once told ‘LA Weekly’. “I write like a black poet. I frequently write from a black perspective.”

“This may have been a response to being pigeonholed by her gender and spotless image, encapsulated by ‘Melody Maker’s 1974 description of her as

elusive, virginal… White Goddess of mythology“…

“…Her bold drag-act statement appears to have raised few eyebrows in the era of the androgynous Bowie and Rocky Horror. Today, on the other hand, blackface is as provocative an issue as ever.

“American historian Ken Padgett, author of ‘black-face.com’, denounces Mitchell’s perpetuation of a ‘damaging black stereotype’.

Even in 1976, this Zip Coon caricature was outrageous and offensive“, he says. “One wonders how Joni could be friends with legends like [Herbie] Hancock and Mingus, and no-one told her what she was doing was insulting.”
{Because they had more common sense than you…}

“Kevin Hylton, professor of equality and ‘diversity’ at Leeds Beckett University, also takes a dim view of Mitchell’s “blackface appropriation{Of course} — one he sees as “reflective of her own ‘privilege’ and limited racial politics“.
{Actually, “limited racial politics” means “not thinking like a racist”…}

Regardless of Joni’s raison d’etre“, he adds, “no performance of blackface can be neutral in terms of its felt impact on black and minoritised ethnic communities.”

“A final word on the context from the photographer whose shot gives us the first glimpse of ‘Art Nouveau’.

It was art“, says Diltz. “If someone did that at a party today, I’m sure people would be aghast. But back then was a time of peace and love, when things weren’t so analysed.

She wasn’t demeaning black people, but celebrating them.”

“These days, Joni Mitchell is unwell, and she declined to comment for this article except to reassert her often-repeated desire to begin her autobiography, should it ever appear:

I was the only black man at the party.”

“So, maybe the photograph captures an important moment for the legendary singer — the night she came closest to becoming the black jazz musician she always wanted to be.”
{Um…no – that would be her jazz recordings…}

— ‘When Joni Mitchell wore blackface for Halloween’,
BBC NewsMagazine, 28 October 2016


See also:
‘It’s That Time Of Year Again’ (Hallowe’en) {October 31, 2016}:



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