Earlier this year I wrote an article expressing how thrilled I was for the release of BLACK PANTHER, and how to prepare for its arrival. The way black folks came through theaters drippin’ with golden threaded Kente cloths and traditional braids (child, and even a few fish plates on sale at the entrance of select theaters), made my heart swell.

Following that immediate euphoric haze of delight, was the impeding reality of October 31st. That once the beautiful Wakandan dust fluffed up by the celebrations of brown people worldwide settled, another ashy ripple would creep to the surface. This one rising with the stench of colonization and its face painted brown.

I was hesitant to write this. I was 30% convinced that maybe, just maybe, after such a celebratory film overflowing with African culture, some of our melanin deficient mates would know better and simply “do the right thing.” Welp, thank you Megyn Kelly for the overwhelming proof that I was wrong. And before you even give me the: “well, the characters in Black Panther aren’t real, they are fictional” line, do remember that the continent along with the culture depicted in the film are both very much alive and very real.

If you are like Megyn Kelly (or let’s be honest several anonymous, non-photo having social media trolls) and you find yourself asking what racist is while reminiscing on the good ole days of your childhood when people dressed up as characters in blackface and it was okay, this article is for you. And girl it was not ok then.

Hopefully, by the end of this read you will know how to honor the Black person (not costume) you are wanting to celebrate. No one wants to wake up to cyber skid marks after being correctly dragged by Black Twitter. Even worse is waking to the realization that they too may be racist. So here is a guide of 5 dos and do not's of celebrating blackness if you are white. 


It seems the beauty industry (with the exception of Fenty Beauty) has a small fixation on naming brown colored foundations after nuts. Be it walnut, almond or pecan, I guarantee you, a quick stroll down any beauty aisle will leave you with an assortment of nutty brown options. When you see these options, PUT IT BACK! Actually, don’t even pick it up. If this isn’t a color you would wear on a regular Monday at the office, and it doesn’t blend into your natural tone, a typical rule of thumb is that it’s also not appropriate on Halloween.


If you find yourself drawing an extended red lip up to your nose, grazing your sideburns and circling down to your chin… Don’t. Wash it off immediately. The over-characterization of Black features is an extremely disrespectful form of mockery. If you need a visual, Google 2 films made almost 100 years ago. In The Jazz Singer (1927) and Swing Time (1936), the characters drew wide circles of paint around their lips to symbolize the large features of black people. This is also done when people add white liner to the tear lines of their eyes to make them look bigger or stuff their posteriors with pillows to suggest a bigger bottom. The rule here is, if you weren’t born with it, and puberty didn’t give it to you, don’t do it to replicate natural black features on Halloween.


If you are a person that loves bright fabrics and beautiful prints, African, Indian and Persian fabrics are at the TOP! Please feel free to learn about the fabrics and what the meaning behind the prints are. While some are strictly for decoration, some are used to celebrate weddings or memorialize funerals. Do a little research and dress accordingly. Do keep in mind that while you are wearing these fashionable threads, there’s no need to suddenly lose your entire mind and pick up an accent. Which leads me to #4.


When you do decide to dress as T’Challa (as many of you will), be clear that a suggestive South African vocal cord mixer is not sold with your online purchase. There is a reason for this. It is also a blatant form of mocking. As a rule of thumb, if you were not born in that region of the world and raised there long enough to pick up the accent…DON’T DO IT ON HALLOWEEN!


Think of assimilation as a means of survival while cultural appropriation is a form stealing. In 2016 the Supreme Court ruled it justifiable not to hire someone with dreadlocks, stating that their hair should be “culturally neutral” in the workforce. Dreadlocks, are grown in a way that does not chemically change the state of natural black hair. Deeming this style inappropriate is also indirectly calling blackness unfit for the professional workspace. To assimilate to popular culture (and more importantly gain employment), the idea is that a more polished look of hair would be straightened or altered. That idea is trash. This is one example of assimilation which is also an American law. Let that marinate. While Black and brown people are “lawfully” instructed to press down our identity and culture to fit in with our whiter and apparently more “naturally fit” colleagues, cultural appropriation happens when they choose to take something from our culture they like and call it new. Think Kim Kardashian and “boxer braids” or people parading in feathers and face makeup while attending a Redskins game. In short, it is when someone takes an idea or concept from another culture that they did not originate create, renames it and then claims it as an original idea. This too is trash. RULE: If you find yourself doing any of the above… I will quote dear Dora The Explorer saying “Swiper, No Swiping!” Don’t do it. It’s not your idea.

If at last you come to October 31st and still find yourself unsure of your costume choices, please find your way to your nearest Black friend, esteemed HBCU graduate, or bodega, with an open ear and heart. Dig deep and ask the appropriate questions. Keep in mind it is not the responsibility of any of the students or patrons to entertain your curiosities, but hopefully, there will be a willing someone.

So, before you run to your nearest drug store to pick up some nut colored variant of foundation to paint your skin brown, in an ill attempt to replicate that of Okoye… pause. Think of the repercussions of this momentary foolish decision. Think of these seemingly outdated words of warning and unhand the chestnut brown foundation!

NOW GO! Go and be great in these sugar-laden streets, and don’t forget… Black Twitter is watching. *insert haunting laughter here*

Happy Halloween folks.

-Devi Dev.