Culture is not a costume

Imitating+different+cultures+with+Halloween+costumes+is+both+offensive+and+insensitive.+Credit%3A+Joel+Mayorga%2FThe+Foothill+Dragon+Press

Imitating different cultures with Halloween costumes is both offensive and insensitive. Credit: Joel Mayorga/The Foothill Dragon Press

Jessie Snyder

 

Imitating different cultures with Halloween costumes is both offensive and insensitive. Credit: Joel Mayorga/The Foothill Dragon Press
Imitating different cultures with Halloween costumes is both offensive and insensitive. Credit: Joel Mayorga/The Foothill Dragon Press

Halloween is a time to be whoever or whatever you want for one night. However, when it comes to racist and stereotypical costumes, there is a line that needs to be drawn. It is one thing to go out on Halloween dressed as Batman or Cinderella, but when someone has a costume that attempts to embody an entire culture, that is when something needs to be said.

The other day I was on Twitter and I saw a huge campaign that is trending called “We’re a culture. Not a costume.” It was something I hadn’t really thought about until now. This campaign made me realize even more how racism is not gone and Halloween sometimes gives people an excuse to be racist.

A common Halloween costume now is painting your face black and calling yourself blackface. Blackface is not only extremely derogatory towards African Americans, but it represents a time when white Americans would put on dark paint and walk around saying racist and stereotypical things. The definition of racist is the belief that one particular race is superior to another. So by painting your face black you are mocking African Americans.

America had made so much progress as far as racism goes and now it seems as though we’re taking steps backwards. Allowing people to wear racist costumes normalizes racism. Just because Halloween is a time for fun does not mean that morality should be thrown in the garbage.  

Some may say that it is not racist to paint your face black and that you are just trying to look like the character you are dressed up as, much like one would wear a blonde wig to achieve the same thing. However, being blackface for Halloween has a larger cultural and historical standpoint versus wearing a blonde wig.

People also paint their faces red for halloween to be a Native American, paint their faces white to be a geisha, and even paint their faces brown and put a bomb on to be Muslim. These costumes achieve nothing except for cheap laughs on Twitter and Facebook. The people who wear these costumes are practically brushing morals off to the side for one night just for attention. I know that Halloween is not a celebration in which morals are involved, (I mean people dress up as dead brides) but by wearing racist costumes you are insulting an entire culture. 

Another problem is people dressing up as a “slutty” Native American or a “slutty” Geisha. I am not saying that nobody should be allowed to dress up as a Native American or a Geisha, I am saying that if you are going to dress as a culture you should portray them the way they actually are. Do not make one culture look as if they are immoral and do not set cultural stereotypes. You do not need the heavy black face paint for someone to figure out who you are.

If you put on an orange jump suit and put you hair in multiple buns I am not going to be questioning that you are Crazy Eyes an African American from “Orange is the New Black,” which is what actress Julianne Hough did in 2013. 

We need to remember that Halloween is about fun and just because we have the freedom to be whatever we want, does not always mean we should use that freedom. If you want to be a Native American, be a Native American, but like I said, don’t make the culture look like something they’re not. Also if you see someone wearing a racist costume, say something, don’t just let it slide by.

What do you think?