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Racial Tension over Halloween Prop...

14578 Views 141 Replies 101 Participants Last post by  coffee4106
Well, I'm a bit upset and wonder what members of the board think.

Very excited about our home haunt this year. I've been working for months and have added motorized props etc. for the first time. Major props to all board members who have answered questions, provided inspiration, tutorials, etc.

Love this community.

One of the things my kids and I did this year was build a seven foot "lifelike" zombie. He looks amazingly real. My kids paper mached his hands, etc. and we used the following realistic looking mask for his head:

Terrifying Rotted Zombie Corpse Halloween Mask Or Prop - eBay (item 370264610569 end time Sep-30-09 12:03:49 PDT)

The mask is awesome and looks amazing!

So, it's October 1st and my daughter and I were outside putting up one of our props when a lady of color walks by and asks us "is this stuff all yours?"

We've already had a number of compliments and people drive by and park, enjoying the assembly of our home haunt, so I'm ready for yet another expression of appreciation.

Instead, she says with anger,

"You're going to want to rethink this one here, because he looks like a black man hiding in the bush.

"I know that's not what you were going for but that's what people are going to think.

"I live down the street and I've already seen people do several double takes."

I WAS IN SHOCK! That's the last thing that would have ever entered my mind. I've had the mask for several years and have never thought that it looked like a black man.

My problem is that I'm actually extremely sensitive towards racial issues and as a result I'm seriously considering taking him down. Halloween is all about fun, and the last thing I want to do is make someone in my neighborhood feel bad.

On the other hand, we worked really hard on the prop, my kids painted his hands to match the mask, etc. and we've had a number of compliments. In many ways, he's my favorite prop.

If it's just one lady being an idiot, taking a Halloween prop in a direction no one else ever would, I may simply choose to ignore her and let her go sulking over our bad taste.

What to do?! I don't know. Either way, this sucks!

Your thoughts?
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That sucks. Do you have a picture of the setup?

I would think that if most people are giving you compliments and you don't agree that it looks as she has described, I'd leave it or maybe change the placement to avoid confusion.
The only thing I would be concerned about is if you had a "black man" on a noose or something like that. However if someone were to get that impression and complain let them have a closer look at it and show them what it really is. You and your kids know what it is dont let one person influence you. If you are still concerned post a pic of the full prop in its postition and others on here will surely give you some good advice.
I'd write it off as "a little bit out there comment" and go about your business as usual. Just my opinion. You could even add that he's Irish if you want to be a little out there yourself! That would be a fun comment to make right back, gotta be a quick thinker!
a wise once said ( i dont know the secret to success but i know the secret to failure - PLEASE EVERYBODY ) hope this helps
That sounds pretty absurd to me. I would pay no mind to her. Amidst a bunch of other Halloween props/decoration, I don't see how anyone else would draw that same conclusion personally.

I am though also of the opinion that Political correctness frequently goes WAY overboard.
Don't worry about it... you can never please everyone and to be honest she sounded like a busy-body... You can always do what a friend of mine is doing this year and he is black and can not wait to dress up like an old voodoo witch doctor to act in our haunt... is it stereotypical, of course it is, but its all in fun... thats the problem with our country today no one can poke fun at themselves anymore without getting someones panties in a wad... Again, your fine... have fun and be safe! :D
Sounds like you have it right... it's one lady being an idiot. Don't worry about it.
I'm going to post a picture of him so you guys can see. But I'm starting to rethink this in terms of "So what if he's a zombie of color!" Since when does a zombie always have to be white? I have never thought of him in terms of color and/or race. But if I did, I'm not opposed to thinking of my favorite prop as a black man. I like black, white, purple, green, yellow, red, and even blue people.
I'm sorry you're in this situation. I think her comment is ridiculous, and you should continue with your plans.

I understand your sensitivities, she's a neighbor, and no one wants that sort of tension in the air. But c'mon, it sounds to me that she's got a chip on her shoulder. I'm guessing she wouldn't be that upset if the skin color were lighter in hue. Sad.

And OF COURSE people are doing double takes. It's the desired response to good decorating, afterall!
Sounds like an anal-retentive wacko!
If she thinks that mask looks like a "black man", I don't want to see what her husband looks like!
(Maybe she killed him and he DOES look like that!)
Oh...in addition to my earlier comment...she sounds like my sister....do the prop
Is it a question of "is it a prop or not?" Does it look so "real" that one might think of it as human? Is it in a shadow that obscures the fact that its only a zombie prop?
If it is, the simplest maneuver would most likely be moving him to someplace where the fact that the zombie is a prop is more obvious. You said something about a bush, take him out of there, or stick a light on him to make him obvious.

If the situation is honestly more complected than that, if its a matter of "that zombie is (insert some variation on the human form here, no matter WHAT it is)" then make him more zombie and a LOT less human... turn him more green or slather on more gore, you know later stages of zombie development...

Just make it very obvious that this prop is a prop zombie and not some perceived racial commentary thing....
I don't have a picture of the prop in question so I cant make a specific determination. The image of the mask is gone BTW.
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You can never satisfy everyone of course. If this woman had told me the same thing, i would have assured her that it was not what she was thinking and told her to have a nice day. If you are firmly within your rights (and the prop does'nt convey hatred or prejudice toward anyone) i would stay on the high ground (and she can climb off her soap-box) and continue on with the display. It was meant as a horror display and nothing more. As Sigmund Freud once said "somes a cigar is just a cigar" and how right he was. I would'nt get involved with the hoopla over this. I can understand certain "sensitivities" towards things like this but c'mon, this woman must be off her rocker to make such a claim. Brush her off as a busybody wack-job and stay the course, that is, unless you have a Zombie loving whack job living near you as well........
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So, she's ok if it looks like a Hispanic man hiding in the bush? How about Caucasian? Eskimo? Neanderthal? Green alien? If you really had a racist display, like a giant burning cross and zombies parading by with torches and white hoods or something, I would agree with her that you should rethink it. Having one person with a wild imagination and sense that everything is race related is one thing, but blatant racism is something completely different.

It's great to be sensitive towards racial issues but, no matter what you do, someone will be able to say what you do is racist. You'll either be saying something negative about some race without even knowing you did it (like your zombie), something positive about your race, which will be seen as cutting down someone else's race, or something positive about another race which will be read as negative towards all of the other races that weren't included. You just can't win. Better go hide under a rock while you can. Oops, don't do that. You might offend the rocks.

Seriously, I would not change anything because one person has a problem with it. How does she know what the people doing double takes are thinking. If it's negative, it's probably because a lot of people think you're crazy to put so much effort into Halloween and set up so early, unless you're one of those "demon worshipers" or something. More than likely they're doing a double take because it's so rare to see displays that are more than just a pumpkin on the front porch and a paper witch in the window. Is it bad to do a double take at a big Christmas light display? Maybe. That Santa could be too fat and you'll offend the obese. (There's another holiday for you to offend entire classes of people unintentionally!) If she looks at a zombie and sees black people hiding in the bushes, she has a big problem you're not going to be able to fix, no matter how politically correct you try to be. Relax and go back to what you were doing 5 minutes before her comment. Spending time with your kids and making something you can all be proud of that will also bring enjoyment to tons of others. Don't let one person's comments ruin your Halloween.

(I apologize to all of the Blacks, Hispanics, Caucasians, Eskimos, Neanderthals, Aliens, and Rocks I may have offended. All opinions are mine alone and are not intended to offend. If you took offense to them, look closer at yourself and please grow up. Oh, I now apologize to those who don't want to grow up. I didn't mean to say what you do is wrong or anything.)
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If someone was to walk up to you and told you that with all of those dead, scary,evil looking things that you have put up in your yard that you look like an evil satan worshiper would you stop putting anything out? I personaly dont think you should worry about it. If nothing else make another one and put in another bush.:D
Sounds like your neighbors just have hangups of their own to deal with. Go ahead with your haunt. They seem to be the ones with the racial issue, not you.
Really appreciate all of the comments. You guys have helped a ton.

I'm quite frustrated over this, but I'm going to keep the prop. The kids and I made it and we love it. We've had a ton of compliments, and like Dadgonemad said, true enough, many people walking by have done a double take, some quite startled, but none, I suspect because they believed we had produced a racial prop. It's because it scared the @#$# out of them!!

Here are two quick pictures of the prop and location. Never had it entered my mind to associate a particular race with my zombie.

Snapfish: Share Photo:Registration

Snapfish: Share Photo:Registration
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