When We Know Better

Many years ago, when I was in my mid-20’s I dressed as Aunt Jemima for a Halloween party. I donned a red gingham dress and crisp white apron, tied a kerchief around my head and sallied forth for an evening of revelry.

Oh, and as much as I’d love to forget this part, I also painted my face and arms black. Yes, I went to a party wearing black face.

I had no idea what a horrible stereotype I was perpetuating. I didn’t know the history of white actors portraying black characters as lazy and bumbling. No one at the party found my costume offensive, but then again, they were all white, just like me. We didn’t know any better; although, we probably should have. Ignorance really was no excuse.

Fast forward a few years to a conversation with an African American colleague. Halloween was approaching and the school kids we taught were giggling on the playground about their planned costumes. I told my friend that I’d once dressed as Aunt Jemima, thinking she’d find it funny. She did not find it remotely funny. This wonderful woman who I admired so much quickly and firmly set me straight. If we hadn’t ended the interaction with a hug I’d have worried that our friendship was over.

I called her that night and thanked her for enlightening me. She said, “Now that you know better, make sure you do better.”

I’ve never forgotten that, and have done my level best since then to do better in all things. I don’t always succeed, I know. I was raised with many tired, racist tropes that I didn’t even recognize as such until they were brought to my attention.

When NBC talk show host, Megyn Kelly claimed on her morning show this week that she didn’t think wearing black face was racist, I thought, “Honey, you’re about to know better. Now, will you do better? We shall see.

Peace, people.

Author: nananoyz

I'm a semi-retired crazy person with one husband and two cats.

15 thoughts on “When We Know Better”

  1. Isn’t is so true that we don’t even realise that the things we do are racist. You are brave to admit that you made a mistake. I had seen Megyn Kelly in the news but didn’t know what she had done until reading your post. That she is still “clueless” at her age is worrisome.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you’re probably right. I’m sure now that her show has been cancelled she’ll run back to FOX with tales of horror from the politically correct side of life. She will clasp her pearls to her chest and claim that she has Stockholm syndrome from being held in liberal hell.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. She made a statement about Santa being white—then said “get over it”. I think she’s one of those folks who doesn’t understand that the color of her skin doesn’t give her the right to say anything she wants.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, her show has been cancelled. She received a huge contact buy out. I’m sure she’ll go back to Fox News with tales of how horribly she was treated by the politically correct crowd.

        Liked by 1 person

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