5 Tips on How to Not Be Problematic This Halloween

According to the cult classic Mean Girls, “Halloween is the one night a year a girl can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it.” While this may be true in the world of Mean Girls, Halloween has become a time where people believe they can be problematic and racist and no one will say anything to them about it. I am here to tell you that that is wrong and to offer 5 tips to keep you from being problematic this Halloween season.

Tip 1: Don’t do blackface. Ever.

Blackface was a Jim Crow tradition in which white actors would paint themselves in black face and act out racist portrayals of African Americans. It is historically racist for people to dress up in blackface and be caracticures of Black people... yet people still do it. So this Halloween, please refrain from all uses of blackface. It was never funny, nor will it ever be funny. There are many ways to portray African American celebrities and characters without resorting to the use of blackface.

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Tip 2: There is nothing wrong with being basic

Have I seen enough cats, mice and witches to last me a lifetime? Yes. Would I rather you be a cat instead of wear a racist costume? Of course! Going with a  basic costume is something you have the ability to make your own. You can be a mouse, a cat, or a unique mixture of both. What you cannot be this Halloween is racist. Plus, DIY basic costumes are the cutest and make for fun memories!

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Tip 3: Native American culture is not a costume

The stereotypes that are associated with Native American people are not an appropriate costume for Halloween or any other time. While no minority culture should be worn as a costume, Native Americans are frequently used as mascots and Halloween costumes. This is problematic because often times people try to over exaggerate what it means to be a Native American. They wear war paint and headdresses that are actually very offensive and not realistic. I’m sure there are other costumes that refrain from doing more damage than we have already done to Native American people.

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Tip 4: If you have to ask if it’s racist, it probably is.

I am all for asking a question you don’t know the answer to, but if you have to ask if your Halloween costume is racist, it probably is. There are very few occasions in which someone can has question if something is offensive and it turns out not to be. If you have to ask, then it’s best that you just don’t wear that costume.

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Tip 5: Check your friends

While you may understand what about certain Halloween costumes constitutes them to be problematic, your friends may not. You don’t have to give them a full history lesson, but a simple “That’s problematic” will suffice! Correcting your friends when they are wrong is a great way to use your privilege this Halloween.

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Halloween is a time to have fun, dress up and consume ridiculous amounts of candy. Halloween is not a time to disregard other people’s cultures and customs or wear them as costumes. So if you are starting to realize that your Halloween costume may be a little problematic, don’t worry you have plenty of time to brainstorm more ideas!

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