It’s the 21st century and I wish I could say that people know better and wouldn’t dare to wear a costume that would offend or poke fun at other people’s religions, ethnicities, races, and hardship. However, last Sunday, costumes of Ray Rice (in blackface, no less) and a battered Janay Palmer headlined in the news. I’m not sure how anyone in their right mind thinks it’s absolutely hilarious and perfectly fine to not only use blackface, but to poke fun at victims of domestic violence. It is beyond disgusting and it is shocking how people can be so dumb and insensitive to others. While you may think that you would never do such a thing, here’s a few other costumes you should never wear for Halloween.That way, you can have the best Halloween ever, while allowing others to have an equally great time.
1. Anything that resembles Native American clothes/headdress
Why it’s wrong: First of all, you should not be wearing a Native American costume/clothing if you’re not Native American. Period. While it has recently become fashionable to don the headdress at music festivals and you might see a bunch of “cute” hipster girls wearing it on Tumblr, it’s still not okay. “Everyone else is doing it!” is not a proper excuse. In Native American culture, war bonnets are earned; they cannot just be worn by anyone who desires to do so. They are worn by male figures of power in society who were chiefs and warriors. It was the symbol of authority. While their history may be somewhat sexist, that doesn’t mean that you can wear it. It’s still a horrible way of appropriating their culture and it’s offensive to the Native American community. You may think it’s cute, but oppression is not cute. You can read more about it here.
Why it’s wrong: Repeat after me: BLACKFACE IS NEVER OKAY. NEVER. IT IS NEVER OKAY. Got it? Good. It should be common sense that blackface is not okay. However, there’s plenty of white people who still think it’s okay. Blackface was first used during the 19th century as a way to make fun of slaves in theatrical performances and was then used in numerous Hollywood films during the early 1900s . While that may seem like a thing of the past, people still think it’s okay to do so. Obviously, blackface is incredibly racist and a way for white people poke fun at black people and play up stereotypes. It is appropriation in its worst form. Many people think that if they want to dress up as a specific character from film, tv show, or pop culture who is a PoC, it is acceptable to don blackface. That’s an absolutely poor excuse to do so and there’s plenty of ways to dress up as a PoC without the use of racial appropriation and racism. I hate having to use Miley Cyrus as a positive example of this, but let’s take a look at her Lil Kim costume:
Is she using blackface? No. Can you still tell it’s Lil Kim? Yep!
Let’s also take a look at this couple’s Beyoncé and Jay-Z costume:
Are they white? Yes. Can we tell who they’re dressed as? Yes. Are they using blackface? Nope!
It’s that easy to not be racist. If you choose to use blackface, you are being racist and insensitive. There’s no way around it.
4. The Ebola nurse costume
Why it’s wrong: As you probably know, Ebola is a deadly disease that caused an epidemic, costing the lives of more than 12,000 people. It’s inappropriate to poke fun at something that is literally threatening the lives of so many people by the use of a “sexy” Ebola nurse costume. Regular nurse costumes are offensive enough, but turning the people who have risked their lives to save those affected by Ebola into a sexy costume is not okay. It’s gross. If you were considering it as a possible Halloween costume, opt out of it.
4. Any costume that pokes fun at someone’s ethnicity (Mexican, Chinese, Arabic, etc.)
Why it’s wrong: Cultural appropriation is never okay. Making fun of other ethnicities and using horrible stereotypes to do so is awful. You may think you’re really funny with your large sombrero and mustache, but that shit’s not okay. Think about why you think this costume is funny. There are negative connotations that are carried with this costume and they diminish actual aspects of a culture into a costume. This behavior is racist, even if you may not think that’s the true intention behind it. If you’re still not convinced that this is racist, I think the STARS campaign is able to show why.
I want you to enjoy Halloween, have fun, and wear a costume that is either cute or scary—or maybe even both! Wear whatever you want, doesn’t matter if you want to be sexy corn or a zombie. However, you should definitely not wear anything that puts other people down. That’s simply unacceptable.