Halloween is quickly approaching, and, with a wide variety of racially insensitive costumes lining the walls of party stores all over the world, the holiday tends to become (unnecessarily) one of the most offensive nights of the year.
Every year, party stores and costume shops sell the same skimpy, polyester excuse for traditional Japanese kimonos and “Pocahontas” themed Native American attire. Every year, actual adults purchase these costumes and either throw them on their oblivious children or throw them on for whatever Halloween party – cultural respect be damned.
There’s a distinct difference between dressing up as a character of Asian descent (i.e. Glenn Rhee from The Walking Dead) and walking around in a cheap knock-off of ceremonial attire. There’s a difference between dressing up as a Black character and darkening your skin as though Blackness itself is a costume. One is a costume, the other is cultural appropriation. One is a costume, the other is blackface.
The easiest way to tell if a costume crosses the fine line between harmless appreciation of a character of color and flat out racist depictions of minorities is to ask yourself the following questions: Is the costume appropriating any traditional attire? Does the costume require a hairstyle that is traditionally worn by a specific race or ethnicity? Does the costume require any traditional accessories worn for ceremonial occasions by a specific race or ethnicity?
If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, you should probably consider a different costume.
Make your Halloween 2017 lit, but make it respectful as well. There’s no downer like racial insensitivity.