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As a kid, I used to think that mind control involved a crazed, mad scientist.  I used to imagine that this frightening figure had an assortment of mind altering drugs that he sprinkled on unsuspecting individuals to get them to conform to his dastardly whims.  After all, hypnosis and other mind control techniques were mainly used by the villains in cartoons, comedies, Star Trek, Twilight Zone, Outer Limits and Hitchcock dramas.  Needless to say, I was terrified.  While these programs gave me pause however, once I grew up, I was able to shake most of the damage they had done to me during my childhood—like being afraid to sleep without a light on.

Nevertheless, as I matured, I watched what can only be called the mind control of an entire group of people of varying ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds.  I know, I know, very Sci-Fi of me.  At first, I considered it folly—you know, something to ponder but not to take seriously.  I was quite sure that I had moved passed the ridiculousness of believing that mind control could possibly be a reality until one day — Easter to be exact.  After purchasing candy, dying eggs, watching everyone head to their nearby church dressed to the nines on Easter Sunday with the little girls adorned in patent leather shoes, lacey dresses and floppy hats while the males were donned in suits and uncomfortable shoes, I knew I was on to something.

To my shock, I started noticing similar happenings on the fourth of July.   Everyone on my block came out almost in unison, fired up the Barbeque pit and entertained guests until darkness.  As soon as the sun went down, they proceeded to light fireworks for hours.  Once completed, they disappeared into their homes—a good time had by all.

I then noticed the same thing on Halloween.  Everyone scurried about in search of just the right costume.  Others made tough choices between candy and healthy snacks to be distributed.  Then, as darkness fell, the neighbors converged on one another’s properties, all dressed in various costumes, in search of candy.  Even though they already had massive amounts of candy in their own homes, they came out dressed and painted in search of their neighbors’ bounty.

Thanksgiving was similarly dealt with.  However, this one begins at the Supermarket level.  Everyone searches for, views and then purchases the same or similar items.  But, it would not stop there.  Just days later, they would be seated and eating the same meal.  Thousands, if not millions of people would be participating in this ritual as if under a spell.

Christmas is, by far, the worst offender of all.  People of all races, creeds and genders—who, by the way, cannot agree on much else during the course of any year—search for the perfect tree, bulbs for the tree, candelabras, nativity scenes, food and candy items and, most assuredly, the all important perfect celebratory gift.  No matter the religious and/or other affiliation, from one god to many, the sentiment is the same.  Don’t forget the gift.

Hmmm.

Is it possible that mind control is not so farfetched after all?  How else do you explain so many different groups of people doing the same things at the same time every year?  Like trained animals, we respond to the bells and whistles that we have been taught are important.  Instead of a strange powder, could holidays be the drug… the impetus used to control the masses?   Can anybody hear me?

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In the News, Julianne Hough has been receiving criticism for her choice of Halloween costume—namely Crazy Eyes of Orange is the New Black fame.   My question is why?  She didn’t don blackface to portray a nameless, faceless parody of all blacks (African Americans), she put on black face makeup to simulate the face (and hairdo I might add) of her favorite African American character.  Where is the harm?

Would it have been different if an African American chose Judge Judy as her Halloween costume?  Would she not have to don a wig?  Would she not have to don white face make up?  If she did not, would anyone know who she was imitating?  Probably not.

That being the case, was Julianne Hough supposed to don the hair and garb of her character choice and skip the fact that her choice is an African American?  Would you have guessed who she was imitating is she had not donned the skin coloring?  Probably not.

Now, do not misunderstand.  Blackface is incredibly offensive.  It marks a period of history where African Americans were treated as little more than circus clowns and toys for white Americans’ amusement.  Even today, signs of the quote unquote buffoonery can still be seen in certain aspects of entertainment.  Just a few years ago, it was used as a plot device for comedic effect, though I doubt anyone who noticed that was laughing.  Nevertheless, we must be able to distinguish between a simple—if poorly chosen/thought out—costume and one meant to offend.  Let’s face it, intent matters…as does effect.

As I hinted in a previous blog, there is a lot of confusion over what racism is and what it is not.  At the time, I stated that people seem anxious to label name calling racism and to ignore real racism such as what exists in the job market, in home buying, in choices of schools etc., for minorities.

I’ll/let’s revisit that.

Racism is not donning a costume for Halloween.  Racism is using that costume to inspire misery and feelings on insecurity for profit or entertainment.  Racism is not saying something that people do not like.  Racism is profiting or benefitting from the degradation and abuse of another group of people.  Racism is not mimicking.  It is destroying.  In the grand scheme of things, Julianne Hough’s actions amount to nearly nothing.

Julianne Hough did not cause the Federal Government to close down for three weeks for foolish reasons.  She didn’t name any of the sports teams in this country with offensive names like “Redskins” and then pretend that she doesn’t understand the true issue behind this choice of team name.  What she did was decide to dress up as her favorite television personality like most of us have been doing for years.  In fact, when challenged, she immediately backed down and apologized for her insult, however unintended it was.  I repeat, where is the harm?

Perhaps, just perhaps we should spend more time focusing on real issues of racism and not reduce ourselves or the struggle to squabbling over petty things.  A costume one day out of a year is not responsible for the imbalance in the law that benefits one group of people and harms another, nor is it responsible for the continued suffering of millions of people.  The fact is, we have much more of a pressing racial problem than whether or not some actress no one will even remember a few years down the line is engaging in cosplay.  Can anybody hear me?