Halloween has come and gone and surviving another year of terrors, terrible costumes, and tremendous amounts of candy is a reward, but maybe a greater reward for this hectic holiday (that is only one night I would like to add) is not being disappointed to find your race was a costume at any event attended that night.
Black face, or any other costume that is appropriation or dressing up as the stereotypes of the race that someone must embody daily is problematic, and the reason for this being problematic, at least in the black community, is the history of black face. Black face was a discriminatory costume, usually worn by white people, and was popularized by a Caucasian musician named Thomas Dartmouth Rice. Minstrel shows (the official name of black face shows) have lived on in pop culture in infamy, and could stand as a representation of how people perceive racism. Black face implements stereotypes of black people specifically dark face paint, acting in a lazy demeanor, and speaking in an uneducated way.
The caricature that is promoted through black face is racist because its goal is to embody a racist view of black people, and that is what makes it an even more terrifying costume compared to Pennywise. Black face’s success posits itself on the fact that many people will agree with the representation presented by it, meaning some people will agree with the stereotype presented or are complacent enough to allow those types of stereotypes to be accepted.
Nevertheless, modern black face is done for completely different reasons, instead of using it to perpetuate harmful views held about black people it’s used as homage, which is still problematic. The desire to dress up as a character is harmless, but the act painting your face to resemble someone’s race is not because it diminishes an entire racial identity to a caricature. The clothes and behaviors are the costume, but a race is something that can’t be removed society has made that abundantly clear.
Halloween is a holiday that is meant to be inclusive an exploration what it feels like to be someone else for a night, but that's too fantastical of narrative to fully accept. The narrative of stepping into some else's shoes only works in theory because even if you dress as them you can remove that costume you have put yourself into. We live in an imperfect world that has been skewed by many exclusionary behaviors such as racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. Due to the implications of all these factors the Halloween has unspoken rules, and not wearing black face is one of them.