I’ve seen my fair share of Halloween Costumes. Some of them are hilarious, some are clever, some are stupid, some are offensive (I’ve had a friend dress up as Hitler, not once, but twice. Our Jewish friend thought it was awesome though). However, the outrage over Coyotes player Raffi Torres is a complete joke.

For those who aren’t aware, Torres decided his Halloween costume would be rapper Jay-Z, along with his wife dressing up as Beyoncé (complete with baby bump). Torres (a very fair-skinned person) decided to go all out with the costume and paint his body in dark makeup to complete the look. Looking at the picture…he did an amazing job. It looks very realistic and paid homage to a musician that Raffi enjoys.

So where’s the harm? Torres honored his favorite rapper, got his wife to dress up as a famous musician, and they did a phenomenal job getting the details right on their costume. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right? Not according to media people like Bill Plaschke, who called this “a disgrace” because a player was dressing up in “blackface.” NAACP leader Reverend Oscar Tillman even requested a meeting with Torres in regards to his costume, going so far to call the Coyotes “losers.”

Let’s get something straight, Blackface was offensive back in the ’20s. Generally it was BLACK makeup (not brown) and usually left the mouth and parts of the face white. Those performers in blackface usually portrayed African-Americans as moronic and mentally-challenged. They were portrayed as less than human. This was wrong, and has no place in today’s society.

Torres, on the other hand, didn’t don “blackface.” Rather, he mimicked the skin tone of someone he looks up to. Calling this to the attention of the nation doesn’t make people more aware of racism’s harm; it just calls attention to race! I don’t know Torres personally, but I can guarantee you that if he meant to be racist, he wouldn’t have produced a near flawless costume. Torres would have made a mockery of Jay-Z if he were trying to be racist. Teammate Paul Bisonette (who sent out the picture on Twitter originally) followed up with a tweet that said, “For someone to dress up as one of the most successful couples of our generation on Halloween isn’t racism.” Truer words have never been spoken.

In 2011, there are still racists, but the majority of us understand that a person is judged by character, not skin color. I remember the lyrics to “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist” from Avenue Q:

If we all could just admit, that we are racist, a little bit.
And everyone stop being so PC.
Maybe we could live in harmony.

The song says that we all notice differences in people, accept that people are different, and don’t get all hung up on those differences. Notice them and move on, then maybe we can all live together in a world that stops caring that you’re different. The problem with people like Rev. Tillman is that they play the victim card. While that may have been true in the past, if you keep playing the victim card, you’re only going to be looked at as a victim. The racism that occurred in the past was awful. For those who have been an attack of a racist act, I can see how hearing about a true story of racism can be a painful reminder. This, however, is not racism.

I say “bravo” to Torres for honoring his idol. A parody or mockery would have been awful, but Torres did an amazing job. I also look at this as a wonderful sign. We are moving into a post-racial world. A Hispanic man and his wife had no second thought about dressing as a successful African-American artist for Halloween. Besides, it’s Halloween! It’s designed to be a fun holiday. I’m excited to see if he tops this next year.

4 thoughts on “Oversensitive

  1. Pretty cheeky for a white dude to attempt to be the arbiter of what is racist or not. As for “moving into a post-racial world”…sign up for mailers from GOP candidates, or one of those popular right wing forums like freeper and see how post-racial America really is. Not. Much.

    1. Ella,

      Can you say for a fact that Raffi Torres was attempting to harm someone by his choice of costume? Racism is a tough topic to handle, however, I feel that intent is very important when determining what is racist and what is not. I tend to believe someone like Georges LaRaque. (an African-American Hockey player) He said, “It’s so stupid for some people to even consider that a racist move, I know Raffi and I can honestly say he’s not” (This is quoted from the USA Today Article about the subject)

      To me, I can never understand why equality isn’t the goal of a post-racial world. Dywane Wade or Eddy Murphy can put white makeup on and it’s ok? I don’t think there’s anything wrong with what they did, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with what Torres did. Equality should be the goal, not a constant reminder of history. I welcome your opinion on the topic. However I will not respond to personal attacks.

      -David Robinson

  2. As a black male living in AZ, I know how much race impacts people’s daily lives. The best part about what Torres did is that he dressed up as someone he admires and respects. for Halloween. How many people do that? Most people dress up as things they want to make fun of or make “sexy.” Torres likes Jay-Z, as do I. If I dressed up as him, nobody would care. JUST now on Tosh.0 a quote summed it up. “They can make a movie called ‘White Men Can’t Jump,’ but if they make a movie called ‘Black Men Can’t Swim’ that would be a problem.

    If you can’t see the logic and truth in that, then you are the real racist.

  3. For the record, I happen to agree with you that Torres’ intent was not racist, and that Tillman overreacted. My problem is that you extrapolate from this incident and conclude that blackface was offensive in the 20’s, but no longer, because we live in a post-racial world. That’s a mighty big leap. As for “personal attacks”, I used the word “cheeky”. You think thats a personal attack?! Wow. Now who’s “Oversensitive”?!

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