Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Julie Myers, blackface, Halloween, and me
Julie Myers, the head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, has gotten in a wee spot of trouble for giving a costume award to a Halloween guest at her party whose costume entailed a striped prison outfit, dredlocks and blackface. (The award was for "originality.")
I had a weird and legitimately ironic encounter with the THE SAME GUY! (Or another guy in an identical costume.) We attended a friend's Halloween/birthday party at the Mansion on O Street, a bizarre bed & breakfast/restaurant/club apparently decorated by somebody's crazy/fabulous aunt, which featured a Halloween buffet dinner involving lots and lots of olives, a make-your-own PB&J stand, and zillions of cakes. I wore a costume consisting of my wedding dress, my pink fake-fur hat with ear flaps, and stamps and mailing labels affixed to my person, hence: Russian mail-order bride. (Pretty good given that I came up with it at midnight the night before, no?)
As we were about to leave, this very tall guy in a striped prison costume approached me and said his friends wanted to see my costume. I went and talked to his friends, who had accents of some Russian/Eastern European type, so I got nervous and kind of apologetic about the "Russian" element of my costume, and said I hoped it was not offensive. I was apparently so nervous that I did not notice that the GUY WHO HAD APPROACHED ME WAS IN BLACKFACE. Mr. T&A pointed it out to me after the fact.
Is it reasonable to think that this is the same guy? Or is it more likely that multiple people chose to wear blackface, dreadlocks and a prison outfit to Halloween parties in DC? What are the chances that I should apologize to a dude in blackface for the potential offensiveness of MY Halloween costume?
Update: A friend found the above picture showing the guy in question in the background. When Mr. T&A asked our friends if anybody remembered the guy in blackface at the party, everyone did, so it seems that my not noticing was aberrational. Also, in my defense, I am pretty sure I would have noticed if I had been, for instance, examining his costume so as to judge it.