Well, it’s that time of year again. Halloween is tomorrow and many are browsing the shelves of Halloween stores looking for last minute costumes. Although there have been countless to-do’s and don’ts that fall under offensive or downright racist Halloween costumes that white people should avoid. There isn’t as much talk of racially offensive or inexplicably unpleasant Halloween costumes that people of color should rethink – or even not think about at all.
As we all know, being a member of a racially or ethically marginalized group does not put a person above biased outlook or behavior. And some people of color seem to be guilty of joining the latest offensive Halloween costume trend in the name of humor. Sometimes these bad choices are rooted in prejudices and prejudices and other times absurd personalized choices are the result of sheer ignorance. Either way, prejudice and discrimination is never a laughing matter, even if it comes in the form of a seemingly unpretentious native headdress. Hidden acts of discrimination are just as dangerous as more explicit behaviors and still maintain the ideology of white supremacy.
Ideally, racism would not exist and we would all gather in a circle every week around a campfire, hand in hand, chanting “Kumbaya”. Or at the very least, there would be no racial tensions and prejudices among members of racially under-represented groups. But unfortunately there is.
In fact, the tension that drives a wedge between racially marginalized groups is a function of white supremacy and aims to divide and rule. Think: crabs in a barrel. Take for example the model myth of the minority, which not only creates a very rigid and controlled set of expectations for Asian Americans to sign up to be considered “good minorities”. It also sets Asian Americans as the norm for all other racially marginalized groups to reach out to – creating resentment within and among racially under-represented populations.
But it does not stop there. We are constantly inundated with negative and inaccurate tropes and stereotypes about other racially marginalized groups, which shape our perspectives and attitudes about them. For example, the over-sexed and criminal-minded black man, the angry black welfare queen, or the fiery and promiscuous Latina and her sex-smuggling Latino male counterpart. And the list continues. Simply put, many people of color have internalized the same racially and ethnically oppressive societal messages and stereotypes about other people of color as some white Americans. It is therefore all the more justifiable – from their point of view – to knowingly wear a racist Halloween costume.
But malice or prejudice may not be the cause of all the obnoxious or racist Halloween outfits that a person of color wears. For some it is not that deep. There are people of color who are unaware of the historical oppression that some groups have endured and continue to endure and who are unaware of the cultural context of certain harmful costumes. For this group, here is a list of offensive Halloween costumes that no one should ever wear. Already. Period.
As if the #MeToo movement wasn’t a giveaway, the R. Kelly trial should have served as a huge red stop sign, but it’s still worth a mention. Sexual harassment jokes are no fun. Someone exposing themselves to unwilling viewers is not funny; it is a very real and traumatic form of sexual harassment. These types of costumes aren’t just offensive; they can trigger those who have themselves been the victims of harassment.
When I first saw someone disguised as a Holocaust survivor, I thought it must have been an anomaly. But I was wrong. Several celebrities have been summoned to dress up as a nazi for halloween. Disguising yourself as a victim of the Holocaust is just as offensive. Several retailers have be under fire for selling an “Anne Frank” costume for little girls. Several stores pulled her off the shelves after customers complained, but others still offer looks similar to “World War II Evacuee Girl” or “40s girl costume for a child. “The Holocaust is a historical event that is not suited to costume party shenanigans.
If your outfit pokes fun at a group of marginalized people, it should stay on the shelf. Take this “granny tranny” costume, for example. He has from Walmart after consumers pointed out that he not only made fun of transgender women, but also used a transphobic slang in the name. Dressing up as a presentation of a genre other than your own is not a good idea. Trans people aren’t kidding, and these costumes aren’t funny.
For decades, dressing up as a “hobo” was considered harmless attire. As a kid, I remember it was the go-to costume for kids when all else failed. But it turns out the costume itself is a major failure and is offensive. In the United States alone, thousands of people are homeless every day. It’s a lived reality for many, not a fun or practical outfit idea.
Body-shaming and objectification costumes
When it comes to disrespecting women, these costumes are wrong in many ways. Not only do they reduce women to sex objects, but they turn a woman’s weight into a joke. Think of it this way: if you wouldn’t put it in a friend’s face, don’t wear it like a Halloween costume. Outfits that mock people’s height, objectify human beings, or mock a person’s lived experience reflect poor judgment.
Do we still have to say it? Maybe we do it because Chris Brown has recently been criticized for doing just that. Dressing up as Osama bin Laden, Dylan Roof, or even a generic ISIS operative are all in very bad taste. It falls under the same title as shedding light on tragedies. While we’re at it, also put dictators like Hitler or anything that involves the Confederate flag off the list.
Sometimes offensive stereotypes creep into our speech before we even know it. How many times have we all called a difficult person “crazy” without thinking about what the term might mean to someone living with a mental illness? Halloween costumes that shed light on mental health diagnoses are no different. Wearing a strait-jacket or any other gear commonly associated with institutionalizing people with mental illness trivializes this experience. Do not do it.
Racial or cultural stereotypes
When someone dresses as a member of a culture that is not their own, especially in an exaggerated or “humorous” way, it looks at best like cultural appropriation or an offensive blow to them. other cultures. If you or your child intends to pay tribute to a beloved Disney character (Hint: Moana or Pocahontas), please dress with racial and cultural sensitivity. Focus on the costumes associated with a specific character, not the general characteristics associated with marginalized groups of people. Bypass the mustache and poncho combo, kimonos, native headdresses and grass skirts with a coconut top. While we continue to see this during Halloween and even some random days of the week, for the last time wearing a black face is never a good idea. It’s racist and further perpetuates the anti-darkness and oppression black people face in the United States.