It’s rare that such a headline is completely valid, but: it’s also rare that a guy who likes to yell at the Washington Redskins for cultural insensitivity gets caught putting on blackface for a Halloween costume. Which is what Terry Rambler, Chairman of the San Carlos Apache Tribe did when he dressed up as Bob Marley. For what it’s worth, he’s very very sorry for doing this, and very very very sorry for putting the pictures on Facebook, because of course he did.
Now. I know that you’re all good folks. I know that you have a laudable desire to not kick a man in the ribs when he’s already down and writhing on the ground, which is more or less what Mr. Rambler is doing right now. And I know that the question “Just how does a non-black person go as Bob Marley for Halloween without using a skin darkener, anyway?” is popping through your heads, because it certainly went through mine*. There’s a real problem out there with shaming people, after all; and nobody ethical really wants to make the problem worse.
But folks, remember: Mr. Rambler has an extremely stern speech code, which specifically includes stuff about what is and is not appropriate when it comes to duplicating racial physical appearance; and he wants that speech code made universal. There’s no wiggle room in it, apparently. So you’re going to have to – sure, reluctantly! – expect and require that Terry Rambler and his associates suffer the consequences that they themselves have set up for transgressions against their own speech code. To do anything else would not take Mr. Rambler’s beliefs seriously, and God Almighty Himself knows that we can’t have that.
And that’s just the way it is.
*It’s a weird little problem, isn’t it? If you go as Bob Marley and put on a skin darkener, you’re perpetuating stereotypes about blackface**. If you go as White Bob Marley, you’re making fun of Bob Marley and/or showing disrespect towards Rastafarians. And if you decide to skip Bob Marley and/or any other person of color and instead go as Abraham Lincoln again, you’re being a cultural chauvinist. I don’t know if there’s an answer, which suggests that whoever set up this particular social justice problem was fiendishly clever at this sort of thing.
**Speaking for the record: I completely understand that a black person with no ax to grind at all might still legitimately get highly upset at seeing a white (or in this case, Native American) dude wearing blackface.