A student, Dean Jeziorkowski, who attends Commack HS in Long Island, was tossed from school this past Halloween because he dressed as Aunt Jemima and wore black-face.As he went from room to room offering the students syrup for their pancakes, the teachers asked him to remove his black-face. The staff felt his costume was in poor taste and he was being racist. When they asked him to remove the make-up, and he subsequently refused, theysent him home for the day. Why??
What the hell is wrong here? Why is everything and anything construed as racist? Hello, it’s Halloween. Kids dress up.
Maybe I have no imagination, maybe I just think in terms of food, but I just don’t see the insult.Personally, whenever I think of the face of Aunt Jemima, all I can think of is syrup and pancakes -how I’m going to prepare them and what toppings will I add.The depth of my dilemma extends to whether they will have chocolate bits in them, or the healthy variety with fruit compote or an unhealthy mix of fruit compote, chocolate bits, whipped cream and syrup. What the hey - it’s my fantasy and I think I’ll have them all.
The iconic image of Aunt Jemima has graced the bottles of syrup and pancake boxes since the 1890s. I would think that it’s one of the top sellers forQuaker Oats. By the same token, whenever I look at Uncle Ben’s Rice, I don’t think of the photo of the kindly old black gentlemen as a racist picture. I just think of the rice, with butter and cheese or fried, or with veggies or sometimes even risotto style, but never, ever racist.
In fact, I don’t see racism anywhere in food. It’s food. And as far as kids dressing in costume - it’s Halloween. If the boy had come to school with black face on and portrayed a baseball player or a rap star or Michael Jackson, would they have felt the same way? I don’t think so. What about if he came to school as Osama bin Laden. What would they have done? Surely that costumewould have offended someone. The whole incident is ridiculous.
He dressed up for Halloween, in a costume. That’s all it was. End of sentence. No racism, no agenda, no insult intended, implied or otherwise. Let’s leave it at that. Halloween is the holiday of candy, fun, a little shaving cream, a little night mischief (as long as no one is harmed), and dressing up. Let’s leave racism out of it.
Not for nuthin’,but if the staff at the school wants to avoid problems next year, they can always ban children from dressing up altogether. Oh, but wait -- that would be interferring with the students’ civil liberties and we can’t do that, can we? Happy Holidays all, JDelBuono@