Politicians and Halloween Blackface

By Jalil Mitchell

Just in time for the huge moment in political history occurring, I will be talking about

something even scarier than most costumes: politicians in blackface for Halloween. Before that, I will talk briefly about the history of blackface and its connotation. Wearing blackface became very popular after Civil War performers engaged in blackface. This boom in popularity was a direct response to trends during the war in which they participated in minstrel shows mocking the Black person. They would also modify themselves to portray an exaggeration of Black features.

It truly represents a struggle by white individuals to maintain their power and societal

status over the newly freed black members of society. Keeping in mind the struggle for Black

people to exist in society at the time and its meaning, it can have an even more detrimental

effect when politicians, the lawmakers of this country, have participated in such a horrible

portrayal of the people they are serving.

Candidate for Kershaw County

Council in blackface during his junior

year in college to dress up as a

member of a Jamaican bobsled team.

In his statement he did not apologize

and blamed his opponent for

“misrepresenting his reputation.”

State Senator candidate Hal Patton

had photos surface of him dressed as

a rapper at a party because “most

rappers are African American.” He

later denounced people who would

use the picture to manipulate his


Florida Secretary of State Mike Ertel wearing blackface at a

Halloween party. He was

dressed up as a Hurricane

Katrina victim in blackface. He

later resigned.

These examples show the importance of being culturally competent and understanding

what your actions represent. At the very least, it is a representation of ignorance, and at worst a show of blatant racism and a disregard for Black people of the US. Nevertheless, these are decisions affecting these politicians’ lives forever.

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