Is Your Halloween Costume Racist?

It's that time of year again! The leaves are falling and the pumpkin spice lattes are brewing. Autumn has arrived, chock full of cooler weather, sweaters, and an exorbitant amount of racism. Halloween is upon us ladies and gentlemen. And with Halloween fast approaching, I think its time we talk about Halloween and cultural appropriation. 

By definition, cultural appropriation is sociological concept which views the adoption or use of elements of one culture by members of a different culture as a largely negative phenomenon. We see this a lot this time of year because of super insensitive Halloween costumes. Many don't even realize the hurt their causing just by wearing these garments. Here are a few (very few) examples of what I mean:

The Rapper

While anyone can be a rapper it is important to realize the story behind the Hip Hop culture. Hip Hop was started by the black community for the black community, and it is deeply rooted in communal positivity and polical activism for black Americans. To dress as a stereotypical caricature of what you associate with Hip Hop culture is essentially mocking black culture. A lot of what people associate with Hop Hop (grills, baggy pants, tattoos, big butts, braids, dreads) is viewed as negative when coming from the black community. Yes, Hip Hop culture is a huge part of the black community but it is not all that we are. Wearing a costume composed of what you associate with black culture means that you’re making generalizations about the black community and that in itself is wrong. Also, the dreads are a form of cultural appropriation. Black hair on black people is often deemed unprofessional, but it seen as edgy or cool on non-black people. To wear dreadlocks as a part of a costume adds to the idea that they aren't professional, and that no one with them (or any other black hairstyle) can be taken seriously. 

Geisha Girl

Dressing as a Geisha Girl is totally offensive! This costume adds to the notion that Asian women are submissive and delicate. Asian women are often fetishized in american culture and this costume helps to strengthen the eroticism associated with their culture. Plus, the costumes are almost always completely inaccurate, and that’s probably because you don’t know what your doing.

Gypsy Woman

Now, this is a costume many don’t even realize is super offensive. Well what’s wrong with dressing as a Gypsy you ask? For One, gypsy is a racial slur first used to insult the Romani people. G*psy is associated with gipped, a word use to usually describe being tricked or bamboozled. Throughout history the Romani people have been stereotyped as untrustworthy. Wearing this costume helps to reinforce those stereotypes, AND takes away from the wrongness of using the racial slur. 

Indian Princess

Dressing as an indian princess has always been such a popular thing, but people, this should’ve really been retired. One, the costume mocks the culture of the native american people. Two, they are not indians because they are NATIVE to AMERICA, hence the name Native Americans. Three, the Native American people didn’t even have princesses. Costumes like these help to reinforce ideas of a happy past for the Native American people. We associate these costumes with Pocahontas from Disney, not the actual story of Pocahontas which is horrible in reality. Costumes like this helps us to ignore the truths of how wronged the Native American people have been in the past, in fact, it almost invalidates there past. And just so you know, those head dresses that people feel like are cool to wear are in fact not cool to wear. They’re sacred to the native american community, every feather on them has been blessed. If that means nothing to you then why would you trivialize their culture?

Mexican Partier

Here you have your stereotypical Mexican costume. This get-up takes away from the rich Mexican culture, and puts this idea into people’s heads. You’ve heard presidential candidate Donald Trump’s opinions on the Mexican people right? I think we all could agree that those comments are hurtful. This costumes helps to validate Trump. Now, thats a scary thought! 

Muslim Terrorist

Lastly, this costume keeps anti-muslim ideals at large. Since 9/11 the negativity associated with this get-up have gotten people killed and discriminated against. It keeps the idea alive that Muslim people are terrorists when in fact most are great people. Islam is a peaceful religion and people forget that because of stereotypical caricatures like this. People forget that there are extremists in every religious group because of this! This costume has helped to oppress and entire group of people. 

In the end, Halloween can be a fun time, just be cautious of what you decide to wear. You can have fun without mocking the culture of a person. Remember how offensive it is and how it trivializes their culture. Remember that wearing these kinds of costumes perpetuates ideas that validate violence and discrimination against whole groups of people. Now, the ones I've listed are just a few examples. Be sure to do your own research before picking a costume.