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Over the last few years, there have been many debates and disagreements regarding racial, cultural and political appropriation when it comes to Halloween costumes. After the events that followed the George Floyd tragedy and trial, many Black journalists are expressing their concern for this year’s Halloween costumes and their availability; and this year’s discussion centers around the distribution and relaunch of Harriet Tubman’s outfit for all women and girls.

As we know, there have been multiple cases of ‘costume insensitivity’ throughout many occasions (with Native American costumes and with the Canadian Prime minister dressing up as a Sheik for a ‘Brown face’ party) however this year’s focus on the Harriet Tubman costumes seems to incorporate implications that extend beyond racial appropriation. 

Journalist, Dustin J. Seibert, argues that the problem with Harriet Tubman’s outfit is the fact that since it will be made available to purchase for everyone, the open access to the costume can potentially propagate racial insensitivity and historical oversight, especially when one considers the social and political climates of a post George Floyd era, and the significance of Harriet Tubman to the Black community and American history. 

In order for all of us to be able to enjoy a guilt-free and uncharged Halloween, we should try to focus on wearing neutral costumes that don’t incite great political or social turmoil. 

However, if someone wishes to dress up non-neutrally, another way to ensure cultural and racial sensitivity is to try to get as educated as possible on a potential costume. This means someone who wishes to dress as a political or historical figure should be educated on the costume’s significance and meaning in order to avoid inflammatory and controversial reactions, and more importantly, avoid the propagation of racial insensitivity just for the sake of having an ‘original’ costume for Halloween. 

I'm from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I am a senior at Michigan State University, Political Science-Prelaw major; and I intend to go to law school after graduating from MSU.
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