Blackface, Fun Ruiner, Ruins Chicago Fun Race
Blackface! It’s not funny! Yet every year there are several stories of white people going blackface for fashion, blackface for frat parties or blackface for Halloween. Every year these people end up on Twitter and Facebook, get called out online and reprimanded, and yet, the trend persists. Is this because we don’t properly teach the history of race and racism in American schools? Or is it because drunk white party people don’t give a rip? I mean, it’s probably the latter, but let’s just pretend they don’t know any better, and if that’s the case …
When will they learn!?
This year’s first blackface offenders are the “Too Soon” team from Chicago’s annual CHIditarod race, an annual costume-themed pub crawl. People dress up and push decorated shopping carts. Sounds fun! But for some reason members of Team Too Soon decided to don blackface for a timely, but poorly thought out Bill Cosby costume and to play a Jackie Robinson West Little League player from the unfortunately disgraced all-black Little League baseball team that was controversially stripped of their title win this year.
Even though helpful individuals tried to tell them to clean off their faces, they did not, because they apparently found themselves so clever in utilizing a joke that peaked in 1927. Thus ruining the fun for everyone.
Said CHIditarod participant Nik Allen to DNAinfo, the fun event was “sullied” when he saw Team Too Soon.
“[My reaction] was, ‘Wow, this is offensive in so many ways,'” Allen said. “It was disheartening.”
Allen snapped a photo of the participant and tried to address the issue with him, but the man “dismissed it,” Allen said, as did his teammates when Allen approached them later, at the Chiditarod awards ceremony.
Allen sent his concerns about the man’s blackface makeup to the race’s organizers Saturday.
The Lincoln Square resident wondered, “How did this get through? How did this not get addressed?”
Chiditarod board member and organizer Diane Back said in a phone interview that the men were asked to remove the makeup early in the day, but they did not. Without a clear policy, organizers did not do more on raceday to address the issue, she said.
Organizers have since apologized to Allen in a blog post for letting Team Too Soon ruining everything.
CHIditarod takes a firm stance that celebrating creative expression is never an excuse for cultural insensitivity or the perpetuation of systemic racial injustice. Such actions undermine CHIditarod’s mission to create positive, vibrant, and creative community engagement. The team in question has since been disqualified from CHIditarod X. Further, we are formulating a participation policy and event orientation program that will more clearly educate participants about what CHIditarod does and does not consider appropriate for any future events. We will also improve our standard operating framework for volunteers, staff, and organizers to address the communications gaps and procedural bottlenecks that contributed to this situation.
Who will be next to get told blackface isn’t cool and you just shouldn’t do it? Look for the nearest college party, fashion spread or costume affair near you and give it time. It’ll come.
Listen to DNAinfo’s radio report on the incident below.