Halloween one of the most acclaimed holidays in the U.S originating in the 1900s. You may start to see the dancing pumpkin all over your Twitter timeline the minute October first hits, or your Facebook feed might be full of your family and friends posting cute costume ideas. However, there seems to be an ongoing and troubling issue surrounding Halloween: offensive costumes.
I can already hear the mumbling and sighs, but hear this out.
Some examples of costumes that are deemed to be in poor taste and can be of offense include “sexy Native American,” headdresses, blackface, Mexican, gypsy, “terrorist,” and geisha.
These are the few of many costumes that can be and are an issue. Let’s start with the Native American costumes/ headdresses.
White people carry a very long history of systematically exterminating Native Americans off their own lands, and headdress are sacred attire to a ceremonial occasion. The inaccurate depiction of Native Americans within these costumes is not only offensive to the people who are proud Native Americans, but also it becomes a mockery of their culture. You participate in “carnivalesque” during Halloween, but it's not right to take something sacred from someone's culture and make it profane.
Wilson from Refinery29 says, “We need to treat people with the dignity they deserve, the way we want to be treated. If it is something that (you) can wear safely where others would be persecuted if they wore it, do not wear it.”
Next this other example is the “gypsy,” which is arguably an offensive term as well. The harassment of the Roma in Europe is well documented and still ongoing - it's best to stay clear from this “costume.”
Many of these costumes feed into very harmful stereotypes, such as dressing up as a “terrorist.” That is a prime and direct hit of harassment to the peaceful yet daily persecuted Muslim Americans, and not only that, but it's also a condemnation of Islamophobia.
Thinking about black face? There's no need for explanation; look up Jim Crow and please NEVER do this.
This seems like a handful, but there needs to be a clear understanding that minorities deal with discrimination, hostility, and structural violence and exploitation.
These “costumes” exploit erroneous stereotypes. People and cultures are not costumes. I know many of you maybe saying, “Oh, relax, it’s just a costume,” which translates to, “I don't care about the implications of this costume, because the implications do not affect me.”
Understand that if you do choose to participate in these “costumes,” you should be prepared and ready for the conversation. Acknowledging the privilege of power is key, so choose wisely this Halloween!