The Rachel Dolezal story got me thinking. Dolezal is the white woman who passed as black and became the head of an NAACP chapter. As an aside, maybe for discussion another day, I think she has gigantic psychiatric issues.
But she is not the first person to do this. I did it in 1959, My father, feeling a bit twisted perhaps, dressed me up in minstrel clothing and charcoaled my face jet black. I then went on a trick or treating event in the main part of the village, followed by a school evening of fun.
Now I had no idea what a minstrel was at the time. I came to learn that they were popular performers in an earlier part of the century, and that Al Jolson was the most famous. Many of you may remember his rendition of the song ‘Mammy’ while in black face.
So, I went out on my trick or treating adventure and visited dozens of homes. Nobody said a word about my costume. The folks would drop candy corn into my bucket and send my on my way. I might add that I never called on a black family…never saw one in my village till the Stevens family moved in a few years later.
And when I spent the second part of my evening in the school auditorium, no one registered any surprise.
But, what would happen if I were to do the same thing today? Have to believe that many folks would express shock, and some might call up any of a number of agencies to report the issue.
It’s a different time and a different world, and I don’t think that certain behaviors would be considered OK today.
And I’m just not sure how I feel about that.