November 3, 2005

Freaks Come Out At Night

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I’ve always thought of Halloween as being a fun holiday, but from an outsider’s point of view. Growing up I wasn’t allowed to celebrate the annual event, and I’ve never dressed in costume. I’ve started each college school year in August saying how badly I want a costume for Halloween, but my enthusiasm usually dies down by the time the date rolls around.

Sometimes I feel like I’m missing out, and that I’ll end up being one of those parents who dresses up and goes trick or treating alongside their children, even though it’s painfully obvious that the former is having way more fun than the kids cowering in embarrassment.

I saw tons of cool costumes over this past weekend, as party revelers flocked about town decked out for a rocking Hallow Eve’s eve. My favorite costume of the night was a girl dressed head to toe in red, with “Ketchup” written across her chest. I can’t explain its appeal, but dressing up as a condiment just seems brilliant.

It’s funny what an excuse to regress and become a kid playing dress up again can make some people do. As noted in Mean Girls, the Halloween costumes in “Girl World” mainly consist of “lingerie and some form of animal ears.” Without fail, year after year, I manage to see very cold girls on very cold nights wearing very little clothing.

But aside from the frivolous, Halloween unfortunately brings out a darker side of what is supposed to be a lighthearted and fun tradition. This year’s Halloween, I saw the good, the bad and the downright tasteless.

Walking home alone from a party on Saturday night, I noticed two guys ahead of me, one dressed as Abraham Lincoln and the other as I don’t know what, maybe he thought he was a gangster, dressed in baggy clothing and holding a toy gat.

The two were obviously stumbling to their destination intoxicated, and the Lincoln character slung his arm around his pal before saying “My ni**a!” and “I freed the slaves!”

I couldn’t believe my ears. Feeling a little bold, I yelled, “Excuse me what did you say?”

Lincoln obviously didn’t think anyone could hear his conversation and slyly replied, “I said, I freed the slaves.”

“No, I heard everything, and I think you’re disgusting, fuck you,” I sneered before walking away. I know it would have served a better purpose to reason and have a poised message for the two young white men, but that’s just how I felt.

The gesture wasn’t entirely meant for the boys I encountered on my late night walk home, I’d never met them before and will likely never see them again. It was more so to my disgust that I attend a school, live in a country, live in a world and live in a universe, where this is considered to be acceptable by any standard.

I find this especially sad due to the recent passing of a civil rights icon, Rosa Parks as well as the death of civil rights lawyer Constance Baker Motley who served as Martin Luther King, Jr.’s counsel a little over a month ago. I’d ask myself what are they teaching these boys in school, but we are at Cornell, aren’t we?

Why couldn’t I just walk away after hearing such filth? They were probably two drunk boys on a Saturday night having fun. But they didn’t think I would be the person walking behind them, listening to every word they said.

Earlier that evening, my friends and I saw three boys who thought they were dressed up as a Mexican musicians, which I guess some people may find funny, but only served to be quite offensive to my friend whose family is from the country. I guess they didn’t think their decision to make a jest out of an entire culture would hurt someone. They’re just kids, some would say, playing dress up.

Unfortunately this world is too complex for that to be true. I’m not saying that there will have to be an invisible censor police following you around even to the bathroom, but we should all be aware of the possible implications our actions can have.

The boys in question probably won’t remember the events on my walk home Saturday night; after all, they most likely list themselves as liberal or moderate on the Facebook and will probably say, “Hell no! I listen to Jay-Z and I have more black friends than I can count on my fingers!” at the mere accusation that they would commit something remotely biased. But the moment’s ugliness and vulgarity will stay with me for quite some time.

Archived article by Sophia Asare
Sun Staff Writer