The only thing more facepalm-y than holding an “African-themed” birthday party — whatever that even means, it’s an entire continent, people! — is how she took to Tumblr to defend the photographs of her friends in blackface, “tribal paint,” and a KKK costume.
Now the whole world knows an Australian woman identified by Huffington Post as Olivia Mahon is an racist idiot.
Mahon’s birthday party took place in September, after which she posted the pictures on her Facebook page. Photographs depict a couple people dressed like animals found in Africa, like elephants and gorillas. Mahon herself is dressed like Cleopatra. But most guests in the photos are wearing blackface and/or facepaint meant to look “tribal” and/or loincloths. And here’s the kicker — one person is actually dressed in a KKK hood:
Tumblr user Black In Asia made the images public through screengrabs, lamenting the WTF-ness of it all. Then Mahon responded on her own Tumblr in a post (which has since been deleted) and only dug her racist butt into a deeper hole. To whit:
In no way was this party intended to hurt anyones feelings or upset anyone at all. In fact as you can tell from the photos I dressed up as cleopatra, whilst MAJORITY of my guests came as animals, that can be found in africa or wore traditional african clothes or even dressed up as famous people who come from africa. If anything this was to celebrate the amazing country and people.
Even if we buy her excuse that Mahon meant for her costume party to “celebrate” Africa, she is unaware why it is offensive for white people to paint themselves black as a “costume.” Just because guests weren’t explicitly encouraged by their hostess to wear blackface doesn’t make it OK to photograph and post them online, either. Additionally, Mahon thinks nobody should be offended by the KKK hood on her Facebook page, because she’s not reaaaally racist. Really, she actually says that:
However, some guest did decide to paint themselves, although this was in no way my intention or encouraged in the slightest. I understand that this has offended some people and I have no idea how these photos have even been seen, they were simply put on facebook for my guests to see the photos of themselves. … So what I am saying is I do understand the people who have painted themselves have offended people, although none of them intended that…. but how can people be annoyed that the majority of the people at the party were celebrating another countries culture. …. I have NEVER been asked to take these photos down, however if I had of course I would have done so, as I had no idea that anyone other than friends and guests could see these photos, and to be honest I am not a racist person at all so I didn’t think anyone could possibly take it that way.
Sorry, girl. Ignorance is a lame excuse. Claiming ignorance presupposes other people are going to forgive you for treating African people like they’re funny costumes. People aren’t costumes; they’re people. Forget about the blackface for a second. How ignorant do you have to be to think that posting a KKK costume at an African-themed party isn’t wrong? You would truly have to be dumb as a box of rocks. (As my colleague from the blog Concrete Loop put it, “She’s stupid and ignorant, which is the worst way to be.”) Sadly, I’m not sure Mahon is really as ignorant as she claims to be — I think she completely lacks empathy and just doesn’t care if she offends.
Here’s a tip, Olivia Mahon. When you get called out with the perfectly reasonable request not to treat other people’s skin color like a costume, the correct response is “I’m sorry.” Just “I’m sorry.” Not “I would have taken the photos down if I was aware they were upsetting people,” but an actual acknowledgment that allowing those costumes at her party was freakin’ offensive and dumb. But no. Instead, Olivia assures us all she’s not a racist (…..) and she would also like to go teach English in Africa:
I intend to spend 2 months teaching english in cambodia in January, and cant wait to do the same in Africa. If you will still have me.
Oh, Olivia. Maybe instead of going to Africa and Cambodia, you should go somewhere and get a clue.
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