Halloween was yesterday but this whole week there has been outrage with the constant new racist Halloween costumes being worn along with the typical racist costumes people still wear. Just recently I saw a few which further angered me and I felt it was much needed for me to write this. There are people justifying the wearing of these costumes just because it’s Halloween and that it is not racist because it’s a costume and they need to stop. The people who wear these costumes need to stop and there has to be an end to this and their racism.
Firstly, a costume of a Native American or Pocahontas is not only mocking the Native Americans but is appropriating their culture; they are not mystical characters that you can dress like! Secondly, the only reason why you feel you have the right to dress like them is because you are a person of power and privileges. if your reason to dress like that is because of Disney and that it’s of no harm then just know you are expressing your white supremacy and are asserting your power, as the Native Americans are not privileged people unlike you are, they cannot be dominant and appropriate the white man’s culture unlike the wm/wm that can and well you do. Therefore, asserting your dominance and power is again the oppression of the Native Americans and so oppression is being repeated again from times of colonialism but in a different form?
The other costume which was just a complete outrage and was not even funny (this goes to those that laughed at this costume and to the people that thought of it as a harmless joke), I just don’t know. How can some who died be a costume, a joke or even funny? How is not racist to mock an event or someone that had got shot due to racial profiling? This costume was one of Trayvon Martin with another man next to him, which was meant to be Zimmerman shooting Trayvon in the head. For them it was a costume, but what about the mother, the family, the friends of Trayvon, do they think it’s a joke or costume worthy? It’s not a joke to make a costume out of the death of someone, its ignorance. Another issue concerning this costume was that making a joke out of Trayvon martin was also mocking what a lot of black African American boys go through in America and what they face on a daily basis due to institutional challenges. This was very well explained by the HuffPost: “5 Things All the Idiots Dressing as Trayvon Martin for Halloween Should know”. Here is the link as it explains everything clearly wrong with the costume along with the use of statistics explaining the challenge’s African American teenagers go through in America. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/30/trayvon-martin-halloween-costume_n_4175436.html?utm_hp_ref=black-voices&ir=Black+Voices
Now, one which many people always argue to never be racist is Blackface. They claim it’s just the darkening of the skin and it’s not rude or that it’s just a mask it doesn’t mean anything racist or stereotypical. But let’s look into the history of blackface. Blackface came about during the times of Minstrel Shows, which was comedy shows which basically made jokes out of black people and it was the white people painting themselves or their faces black maybe using charcoal or other ways and mocking and acting out negative stereotypes of black people. This therefore dives into the past and shows how blackface was used as a way of mocking black people, so then how is it not racist to still wear such a thing today. So it is again the white man oppressing and mocking those it had oppressed back then. It is not just the darkening of the skin because this character or person or whatever was black, it is practicing what had happened in the past during those minstrel shows.
Thirdly, a costume which has been worn for many years is the Muslim terrorist costume or the women in Burqa costume. This has been going on since 9/11 took place and white people feel that they are privileged enough to dress and mock a religious dressing but also a cultural dress worn by many Arabs. It is the mocking of someone’s religion and again they claim it’s a harmless joke but is racist with the fact that it only portrays the worst stereotype of Muslims with showing them all to be carrying guns and bombs. This again is offending the culture of many and brings out the worst stereotypes of these people and therefore offends many and all I see is people being insensitive about it and saying “it’s just Halloween”. It’s not just Halloween it’s a way of turning someone’s culture into a uniform.
Lastly, in the media there has been a constant show of which celebrities dress up in racist and offensive costumes and then later on apologise and say it was done unintentionally. One example of this is Julianne Hough who had dressed in blackface and then later on gave an apology and said “she didn’t mean to offend people”. However these celebrities have only dressed in such a way because they know they have the power and privileges to exploit or appropriate someone’s culture or history.
This is what Halloween has done, it has allowed there to be a time where racists get the opportunity to exert their privilege’s and dress or culturally appropriate and then try and justify the way they are dressing, like there is any justification for their racism. There are so many more costumes or masks that people wear on Halloween that are racist and then there’s so many people who sit there justifying their horrible acts and exert their power and privileges by mocking and turning someone’s culture or history into a costume. There needs to be an end to this but also awareness because once there is awareness of this matter then can there be change and that is the way to stop this from happening. But a question you must ask yourself is, would you like someone to mock your culture and then live with the stigma which is left behind? Would you like someone to make a joke or costume out of a past where you were oppressed? So please think about what you wear on Halloween or any other fancy dress party!