A young white Australian woman turned 21 and decided to have an “African” themed birthday party. After the festivities, she posted photos to Facebook. Ignorance, insensitivity and racism ahoy!
As Heben Nigatu writes on Buzzfeed, Tumblr user Black in Asia posted the shots, incredulous: The girl posted the pictures proudly and flatly refused to take them down when confronted by another individual about how they were racist apparently. Pictures were reported to facebook weeks ago and they still have not been taken down The elephant is okay. Gorilla? Fine. If you must. Everything else is revolting and offensive. (WTF with the KKK getup? WHY.)
Africa is HUGE, a vast continent. Large enough that you could fit the United States, China, India and Eastern Europe inside of it and have space leftover.
Are there jungles? Yes. But there are also bustling metropolises. Downtown Lagos, Johannesburg, Cairo. There are eight million people in New York; there are nine million in Kinshasa (11 million in Lagos). Dressing up in cheetah skin and beads in order to look “African” reduces an entire continent — which contains 54 countries, including Arabic-speaking countries like Morocco, Egypt and Libya — to a horrible stereotype of a “native.” An image pervasive in a less-enlightened age, one we supposedly left behind decades ago. And yet! These images depict smiling white people painted brown, wearing Hollywood-style Tarzan clothes, as well as weird face paint. Worse, the young woman took to Tumblr and posted an explanation of sorts (which has since been deleted):
Okay don’t even know how to use tumblr but wanted to clarify this. It was my ‘African themed’ party and it was honestly made that theme because I have always wanted to go to Africa (to teach english) but haven’t made it there yet. In no way was this party intended to hurt anyones feelings or upset anyone at all. In fact as you can tell from the photos I dressed up as cleopatra, whilst MAJORITY of my guests came as animals, that can be found in africa or wore traditional african clothes or even dressed up as famous people who come from africa. If anything this was to celebrate the amazing country and people. However, some guest did decide to paint themselves, although this was in no way my intention or encouraged in the slightest. I understand that this has offended some people and I have no idea how these photos have even been seen, they were simply put on facebook for my guests to see the photos of themselves. I am 100% sure that parties would be held that would be ‘Australian themed’ or American themed or even countries of the world, and in that instance I don’t believe anyone would be offended. People wear oktoberfest cotumes to parties and no one cracks it that they are not German? So what I am saying is I do understand the people who have painted themselves have offended people, although none of them intended that…. but how can people be annoyed that the majority of the people at the party were celebrating another countries culture. Also one of my friends who is Mauritian painted himself white, but that photos didn’t make it to this page along with the MAJORITY of people who were amazingly detailed costumes that no one could take offense to!! I am sure that not one person at my party felt upset that said guest painted himself white as it was not meant in that way at all. Also, I have NEVER been asked to take these photos down, however if I had of course I would have done so, as I had no idea that anyone other than friends and guests could see these photos, and to be honest I am not a racist person at all so I didn’t think anyone could possibly take it that way. I intend to spend 2 months teaching english in cambodia in January, and cant wait to do the same in Africa. If you will still have me. To reiterate, I was cleopatra and did not encourage my guest to wear anything racist simply to come as something African Inspired, much like if you went to an australia day party (Which I am 100% sure people of all races and cultures do every year!!!) Again I am sorry for those I have offended and the photos have now been removed now that I have eventually been made aware people were upset. For those who know me at all you would know the last thing in the world I would want to do would be to offend people.
A FEW THOUGHTS:
1. This is NOT the same as wearing Oktoberfest costumes because that is a specific holiday and country, not an ENTIRE CONTINENT of people, many of whom were routinely enslaved, colonized and oppressed by white people for centuries.
2. AFRICA IS NOT A COUNTRY.
3. You’re 21 and you can’t spell.
4. God help Cambodia.
For her birthday, this woman is getting a talking-to from the internet. Many happy returns!
I hope she actually does get to go travel to some African countries, to be honest. Fighting ignorance with education is the only hope we have.