A Story To Help You Avoid Accidental Racism At Your Next Theme Party
Theme parties can be such a blast because 1) costumes and 2) party.
I'm a big fan of both. Though I don't always wear costumes, when I do [I think] they're pretty awesome. And I'm almost always down for a good party, as long as it's not, well, painfully offensive.
There's a good example of what I'm talking about in the story below. It's about a guy who went to a theme party and felt like an outsider, even among his own friends.
"I love parties. House parties, Halloween parties, Super Bowl parties … you name it. I’m an outgoing guy and I like meeting new people and having a good time. But themed parties, can we talk about it?
Look, obviously some themed parties are stupid racist (hint, anything with blackface is racist). I’m not talking about those. I’m talking about the seemingly innocent 1920s themed parties. Or 1930, or any decade before 1960 really, let alone anything in the 1800s.
My white friends seem to like these parties. Fancy hats and moustaches and 3-piece suits and dresses with white gloves and things like that.
Let’s get a few things straight. When white people say they are throwing a '1920s themed party' they’re really saying 'dress like a white person in the 1920s.' If I showed up the way MY ancestors dressed at the time, you would think I missed the memo.
Which is fine, I guess. But I really don’t think they understand that parties like this can get awkward. Especially if I’m the only person who isn’t white.
In a room full of white people wearing clothes from an overtly racist era, at best I feel out of place. At worst, I feel like I’m part of THEIR costume as the servant.
Sure, I often end up having fun because I’m with friends …but it doesn’t mean it’s not awkward. The entire night, I’m reminded of my minority status. I think it’s one of those things white people never stop to think about (or experience), but it’s pretty obvious." — Anonymous via Empathize This
The takeaway: No one's suggesting you shouldn't host that "Great-Gatsby-themed" party. But we are saying you'd do well to consider the historical, social, and cultural subtleties of your theme. Because it's a party, right? And you want everyone to have a good time.
P.S. If you enjoyed that deluxe true-story-webcomic combo, consider becoming an Empathize This patron. (Even their pitch is a webcomic!) Your support will help them make the Internet a place where people can become kinder and more conscious.
P.P.S. I really do love costumes. And crafting them — a bit crudely, I'll admit. But who cares!? Look at how fun they are!