Can New Zealanders Please Stop Wearing KKK Outfits & Blackface?
And while we're at it, can we stop rewarding people for doing it as well?
I just got back to Los Angeles, just in time for Hurricane Hilary to hit California tomorrow. It keeps being downgraded, but parts of Southern California could still get hit hard, experts warning a year’s worth of rain could fall on parts of the Southwest.
Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency this morning, “as the state prepares for a historic hurricane expected to cause extreme rain and flooding.”
In my neighborhood the supermarket was packed with bodies panic-buying. Almost all the water was gone. Insultingly, most of the stuff left was a brand from New Zealand.
It’s unusual being back in America after almost a month and a half in New Zealand fixing my spine. I have a whole other life in New Zealand. It’s a bit like the Upside Down in Stranger Things, except much less hideous. I have beautiful friends and family in Aotearoa — and it was nice to settle into that for a bit. Now here I am back in LA — releasing Mister Organ in cinemas here later this year, and making more Flightless Bird.
As I left New Zealand, a few people asked why I was heading back to a place that might elect Donald Trump.
Not to make it political, but New Zealand is preparing to elect some knob-heads of its own. There’s National leader Christopher Luxon, a man previously tied to pentecostal Auckland church the Upper Room — a man who claims his religious beliefs don’t colour his politics. I call bullshit on that. When your ethics and morals exist to guarantee you a spot in Heaven and the afterlife — those ethics and morals play out in all aspects of your life. Including your politics. Your soul depends on it.
Then there’s the Act party’s David Seymour, the kiwi politician with Trump’s ability to get maximum media pickup for a variety of shitty racist jokes and views.
As I sat on a plane for 12 hours hoping my back would cooperate on a cramped seat, some New Zealanders decided to dress up in KKK outfits for a pub quiz in my old hometown of Tauranga.
I just spoke to a woman who attended, who was still sort of shell shocked.
“The team walked in — they were one of the last to arrive,” she told me. She didn’t want to be named. I get it.
“I had my back to the door, but there was an audible reaction so I looked round and was really shocked. I sort of thought it must be something else at first — that just looked like the KKK. But no.”
“Their team name was ‘Give us a klu’. The majority of them kept their hoods on the entire night so even if I’d known them, I couldn’t have identified them. They had a petrol can on their table which was an interesting touch. And the emcee gave them a prize for commitment to their costume because they weren’t taking them off even to drink.”
Prize in hand, they left into the Tauranga night.
New Zealand tends to do this stuff a lot: find excuses for people to show their utter lack of understanding. That’s the kindest reading. There are less kind readings. I’m trying to remain impartial but failing.
You’d think it would stop at the people who dress up. A bad decision that will be rebuked by others.
Instead they’re handed prizes by organisers. They are celebrated.
A similar thing happened in another New Zealand town nine days ago. It was another quiz night — kiwis love to quiz — but this one was in Christchurch and the quiz team arrived dressed in blackface.
They were promptly awarded “best dressed” by the organisers.
I guess my point is — what is my point? We all need to be better. New Zealand is heaven but it’s also hell. America is full of awe and wonder, but it’s a terrifying abyss.
The real world, the online world — we’re going through a time. I think it’s summed up perfectly in this series of tweets (sorry, X’s?) over on X, formerly Twitter. Elon Musk announced that he’s about to disable the ability to “block” abuse.
“So I can’t block a stalker?” a user replies.
In a normal world, it’s a logical response, and there would be a logical answer.
But here, in the storm of 2023, another user responds with “Can you block a stalker in real life?”
It’s like we’ve given up. Let them stalk. Let the world burn. Let them wear KKK outfits and black face and be rewarded for the creativity.
We can do better. We must do better.
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