With Halloween less than two weeks away, it’s officially crunch time for anyone who hasn’t come up with a costume. Which is why we need to offer this PSA: If you are a white person, please, for the love of God, do not dress up as Kodak Black.
Here are two reasons why this is a terrible idea, in descending order of importance.
1. Blackface is highly offensive to a large number of people, since it has historically been used as a way for white people to make fun of black people (while simultaneously enslaving them, preventing them from voting, and killing them in unprecedented numbers). You may be a regular donor to the NAACP who’s #wokeaf, but someone who sees you roll up to a Halloween party in a fake grill isn’t necessarily going to know that. Nor are they going to know that you’ve been listening to Kodak since the Project Baby days and have nothing but the utmost respect for his artistry. Something to consider: Is dressing up as your favorite rapper really so important to you that it outweighs the likelihood that you’re going to make at least some of the people around you massively uncomfortable?
2. Your photo will inevitably end up on a racist Halloween costume roundup. If you are a public official, get your letter of apology ready! If you’re just a regular private citizen, prepare yourself for a rough couple of weeks on social media. No one will feel sorry for you except for crazy-eyed Trump supporters who think this country has gotten to be too damn politically correct ever since we gave gay people the right to get married to one another, and what’s next, saying people can get married to marmots?
(Shameless plug: Please send all photos of offensively dressed public officials and/or letters of apology to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Even this early in October, there’s already been one documented incident of a white person dressing up as Kodak Black: Claire Kemp, a 17-year-old who lives in Clearwater, ended up going viral after she dressed up as the Pompano Beach rapper for Countryside High School’s “Character Day” during homecoming week. In her defense, she didn’t use blackface, which she fully agrees would have been offensive, but she did wear her hair in bantu knots, not knowing at the time that she was copying a traditional African hairstyle, which is maaaaabye not the best idea if you are a white girl. (Just ask Khloe Kardashian!)
Despite getting thousands of angry tweets, Kemp is standing her ground: She’s kept the pictures up and is planning on dressing up as Kodak Black again for Halloween, bantu knots and all.
“You can’t just do Kodak without the hair,” she tells New Times via Twitter DMs, adding, “My intentions were never to be offensive and I mean I understand where people are coming from, but at the same time, you can’t please everyone. It’s not like I dressed up simply to be a black person, I dressed up as my favorite artist.”
Undaunted by her newfound infamy, she’s also changed her name on Twitter to “Kodak Claire.”
“A lot of people in Pinellas County know me just as Kodak,” she explains. “I’ve even been to the drive thru a couple of times and the workers who I’ve never met know who I am.”
Kemp also notes that a couple of other people at her school have tried dressing up as Kodak Black and one of them did blackface, which did not go over well at all. (Her costume got a universally positive response from both black and white students at her school, she says, which is why she’s not taking the Twitter hate seriously.)
Her advice to would-be Kodak Blacks this Halloween? “10/10 don’t recommend blackface.”
You’ve been warned.
Keep New Times Broward-Palm Beach Free... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering South Florida with no paywalls.