Please don’t be racist for halloween

We’re already a few days into October, which means Halloween will be here in just a few weeks. Delicious candy, children trick or treating, the start of cold weather and ridiculously racist costumes.
Huh? One of these things is not like the others . . . . But it’s true!
Something about Halloween makes some people throw on Native American headdresses, don blackface, and wear provocative scraps of material made to resemble an “exotic princess.” There is apparently something sexy and fun in getting to imitate another culture, but for the cultures being appropriated, nothing about these Halloween costumes is fun or acceptable.
In fact, students at Ohio University created a campaign called “We’re a Culture, Not A Costume” through their STARS (Students Teaching Against Racism in Society) student organization. The group has made photo campaigns for the last three years. The 2011 photo campaign features students of various ethnic backgrounds holding photos of their cultures being represented in costumes with texts reading “We’re a culture, not a costume” and “This is not who I am and this is not okay.” Other years’ slogans were, “You wear the costume for one night, I wear the stigma for life” and “When this is how the world sees you, it’s just not funny.”
These campaigns are very necessary and powerful, but some people still continue to make a mockery of them. On “Chicks on the Right,” a blog focused on giving Conservatism a “Makeover,” writer Mockarena suggests that “this entire country . . . [should get] the twist out of its collective panties and freaking LOCATE ITS SENSE OF HUMOR.” She also questions if we have “really gotten this completely hypersensitive? Are people really this incapable of just laughing at themselves a little?”
Well, sorry Mockarena, but from looking at your profile picture, you are a middle-aged white woman and you’ll never experience systematic racism or need to “just laugh at yourself” when someone wears your culture and lifestyle as a fun, one-night-only identity.
As a young middle-class white woman myself, the only stereotype I often get assigned is that of a ditzy person that wears leggings, UGG boots, a Northface or Patagonia jacket and totes a Starbucks drink everywhere I go. I have never been arrested, killed, racially profiled or negatively affected by this stereotype. Whereas if I were any other race or ethnicity, any one of the negative things listed above could happen to me on a daily basis. I would also have to come to terms with my identity frequently being used as a joke and a parody by people who have no real connection to it.
Even though people think it’s a fun Halloween costume to throw on some “ethnic” clothes, they only wear that identity for a day and never face any negative consequences because of it. They never have to face the very real negative judgement, discrimination and other actions that people of color face on a daily basis. For that very reason, I ask you to please not dress like a racist this Halloween.

1 Comment

  1. As a Zombie, I must speak up for my people and point out the exploitative way the arrogant living have used, financially abused and mocked my people for years. We get no residuals from racist Hollywood or the insipid, insensitive audiences who view our struggles at entertainment. We are a culture, not a costume. I demand No Racist Zombie Costumes.

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