Utahns disagree on controversial costume makeup

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) - Controversial costume makeup is sending shock waves across the state just a day before Halloween.
SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) - Controversial costume makeup is sending shock waves across the state just a day before Halloween.

Blackface started in minstrel shows in the 1830s; however in the year 2013, is it offensive?

"No I don't think so," said Carlos Pozo.

Deleon Hawkins agreed.  "Do I feel offended because I am black?  Absolutely not," he said. "I think there's much more important things in the world we should be focused on."

However, several Utahns told ABC4 Utah they do not agree.

"I find it really offensive and upsetting and problematic," Hazel Kiefer said adamantly.

Agree or disagree, Utahns have spotted a blackface trend this time of year.

It started with a picture of Utah native Julianne Hough who dressed in blackface at a recent Halloween party.

Then came a tweet from the Utah Jazz that said "Can anyone top this Jazz Halloween costume?"  The tweet came with a picture of hall of fame players Karl Malone and John Stockton compared to two Utah Jazz fans.  One was in blackface posing as Malone.

Moments later the Jazz tweeted, "We apologize for the last tweet moments ago.  We have taken it down as it may be insensitive." 

Pastor France Davis, a prominent voice in Utah's black community told ABC4 Utah the organization made the right move.

"It is offensive that there would be those who would use as their costume a painting of their faces and a whole group of people who have no choice what they look like," he said.

Davis said blackface fueled negative stereotypes at its inception, misrepresenting the black community.  Therefore, he said it had no place in society today.

"I believe that those who are doing it now need to realize that it impacts people negatively and it hurts to see that being done," he said.

For that reason, students at Colorado and Ohio University just launched a campaign called "We're a Culture Not a Costume."  The campaign is responsible for hundreds of ads on both campuses shunning costumes and celebrations that fuel racial stereotypes.

There are no such campaigns in Utah, but some still told ABC4 Utah it could potentially ruin the holiday for thousands of students.

"Just let them enjoy it.  Let them have fun," John Conlon said.

Others said it is the right move to make.

"It's easy to say it's Halloween, it shouldn't be taken to seriously, but the reality is the things we do as human beings are important," Hazel Kiefer said.

Davis agreed.  "Halloween is not an excuse to do what you wanna," he said. "Rather it's an opportunity to do what you oughta."






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