I was at a Halloween party no more than two years ago, hosted by a girl I had lost touch with recently, when some new arrivals showed up. Everyone had been having a harmless, normal, good time, when this (white) couple came in carrying axes and machetes and covered in fake blood. Almost the first thing out of the guy’s mouth was a joke about how they’d just been over on the black side of town (hence the weapons and blood…get it?). When he didn’t get the laughter he thought he deserved at that joke, he said it again to make sure we hadn’t missed it. That time, a few people laughed – nervously – and quickly changed the subject. I was so stunned, I couldn’t process what he’d said at first, and when it sunk in, I got cold to the core. I am under no illusion that racism is dead, but encountering people who still think that way never fails to shock me, even as it does not surprise me. Is that possible? It’s true…especially when something so horrific is joked about – very deliberately. There was no context in which this “joke” came up naturally, as some people’s attempts at racial “humor” often do – in a court of law, it would have been called premeditated – he obviously planned it before he came in – and it was clearly motivated by nothing other than a desire to make a callous and shocking joke about the lives of black people, and prove that he could get away with it.
I didn’t know these people, or hardly anyone else at this party besides my friend. I was beyond shocked, and I didn’t know what to do, and I’m ashamed to say I just left as soon after that I as I could. I usually don’t do that… I wish I could go back and tell him off, and everyone that was there who laughed.
Just an unsettling reminder that people who think like that are hiding in plain sight everywhere. They just usually don’t let their true self show unless they think they’re in “friendly” company.