The Scariest Halloween Costume Ever
Many don’t often understand why dressing up as people from other races and cultures is perceived as offensive, beyond the fact that it “hurts people’s feelings.”
I have a story from last Halloween that illustrates the problem perfectly.
I was at a Halloween party in Westwood (UCLA’s college town), not dressed up as usual. In attendance was a guy (let’s call him Bob because he’s basic and I don’t remember his name) who I’d had an argument with the week before. En route to a different party, I had overheard him and a friend drunkenly laughing about just leaving a party because there were “too many Asians” in attendance. I called them out in front of everyone on the street, yelling at them and calling them racists. That’s obviously the worst thing you can call someone, so they followed me around that night desperately trying to convince me that they weren’t racist (Bob had done mission work in African apparently, so he was incapable of such tyranny!!1).
Fast forward to Halloween night, and it turns out Bob’s roomates was one of my friends. His roommate approached and tried to convince me to give Bob another chance, that he wasn’t racist, and that he felt really bad about what he did. He introduced Bob formally to me and then left us to become bffs.
There was only one problem. Bob’s costume that night was a large sombrero, furry black moustache, and an oversized poncho.
He tried to chat me up about different random topics, but I was visibly deadpan and uninterested in conversing with him. He then asked my why I wasn’t dressed up, and I told him that I’m not really into American holidays. Since we were now on the topic of costumes, I asked him what he was dressed up as.
He paused before answering, suddenly hesitant. Avoiding eye contact, he responded, “Umm… well… nothing.”
“Huh?” I replied. “You’re clearly dressed up as something—”
“Oh, yeah. Well I couldn’t really find anything, so I guess I sorta just threw this together and now… I’m kinda like a Mexican or something.”
“Right.” I turned away from him.
“Well are you going to dress up tomorrow?” He inquired. “There are so many more parties to attend!” No. I wasn’t. But he was persistent.
“Come on, man. You gotta dress up! Here, I’ll help - what have you always wanted to dress up as?”
I looked at him from top to bottom, my gaze stopping at a bottle of red hot sauce in his left hand. I turned toward him and finally gave him a welcoming smile. “Fine! I wanna dress up as a white person.”
He looked at me as if an eyeball had just popped out of its socket. “What? Dress up as a what?”
“You know, a white person. I’d love to be that. Can you help me out? What should I wear?”
He laughed, seemingly relieved that I was finally engaging him in a friendly manner. “Oh come on man, don’t be silly. You can’t just dress up as a white person.”
“Because, man… white people are diverse. You’ve got skater boys, hillbillies, businessmen, rich people, poor people, hipsters, bros, hippies, nerds… so many different types. There is no one way to just generally be ‘a white person.’”
I laughed incredulously. “Oh… but wait. You can dress up as a Mexican but I can’t be a white person? Is there just one way to be a Mexican, then?”
He froze. “Oh, no! There’s not just one way to be a Mexican…” his voice trailed off, unsure of itself.
“Ok. So what other ways could you have been a Mexican?”
I stared at him with a closed-mouth smile and arms crossed, patiently waiting for an answer. But Bob was struggling, scanning the room full of ghosts, goblins, and Indians for a politically correct answer.
“Well, to be a Mexican… I guess I could have been a gardener.”
Our conversation ended there. (I may or may not have told him to get out of my face.)
Bob did come back as the party ended to vaguely thank me for making him think. But I was once again cold and uninterested. And now when he sees me around campus, he makes sure to awkwardly look away or walk in a different direction.
I’m not in college anymore, but the saga continues - I’m writing this while at my corporate job, and one of my coworkers is dressed as a gangster, decked out in a red bandana, Dickies, and a checkered shirt only buttoned at the top. He’s a grown man dressed as a one-dimensional “Mexican.”
When you dress up as other races, you’re not only covering up your own identity — you risk covering up your mind’s ability to differentiate real people from their stereotypes and caricatures.
Fuck everyone going “as a Mexican” this year.
You’re going “as a racist” and you should know it. And that costume doesn’t come off.
Here are some Mexicans
Top to bottom:
Enrique Olvera, internationally famous chef of Pujol in Mexico City
Monos Urbanos, parkour crew that has done TV ads and workshops around Mexico
Lorena Ochoa, the former BEST WOMENS GOLFER EVER.
These are Mexicans. You dressing up as a stereotype is you being a racist for Halloween and presumably all the other days of the year too.
I never rant like this, but -
About the whole brownface/blackface Colton thing?
For one, most of us - including Colton - are way too young to understand the culture and the history involved with blackface makeup. While it was part of an incredibly racist movement back in 1800s, it was done this way simply because there were no black people in theater. If you don’t understand why there weren’t, you should open a history book sometime.
For two, blackface makeup itself has absolutely nothing to do with racism. It’s the connontations behind it. The way blacks were portrayed back then was extremely judgmental and ignorant.
For example; should the elderly be offended if you were to wear a grey wig, walked with a cane or wore a wrinkly mask?
Should anyone famous be offended if you wear their face as a mask? Should women be offended if men were makeup and a dress?
For three, it’s a costume. Plain and simple. Costumes are made to transform you into the likeness of someone else. Skin color isn’t any different from eye color or hair color and if you have to distinguish a difference, maybe you’re the one who’s being racist.
Apparently it’s not offensive when people color their skin and wear fake hair to portray an animal.
Were any one of you offended by the movie ‘White Chicks’ starring Marlon and Shawn Wayans?
If Colton Haynes was wearing a Ghandi mask, this wouldn’t be an issue. Or if he was just simply wearing the robe part of the costume, it wouldn’t be an issue. But people are putting motive and maliciousness behind something that may or may not be there. I can assure you that most of us don’t know Colton personally and can’t say whether or not he was committing a racist act.
And like I said before, blackface USED to be a cultural thing and it’s long since died. Was Colton making a production of his costume and portraying Ghandi in a sardonic or cruel way? Doubt it. So still, not as racist as you’d think.
The problem boils down to this: no matter how much of a mixture of ethnicies we have in America, it’s reactions to things like this that keep us set back from racial freedom. Because instead of seeing the amazing, poetic, powerful leader of the people inspiring a costume for someone — we see a white guy painted like an Indian. By those standards, anyone dressing like Arab figure, Greek figure, Roman figure, European figure, Latino/Hispanic figure should also be considered racist.
All that being said, I’m just going to go ahead tell you all that I am a person of color. I’m half white and the other half is a lot of things - if you need a list to gauge how racist I could be, you can just go away. Because it’s not about skin color. You making it about skin color makes it racist.
The ignorance in this post.
But seriously I had pretty much started writing out a whole explanation of what is wrong with this until I realised it would be pointless. Anyone who is willing to labour under the belief that Blackface doesn’t continue today, that Blackface was adopted to play Black characters in the absence of Black performers (that almost deserves a separate bullshit gif) or that a costume which evokes Blackface (or Brownface in the case of the Ghandi costume) cannot be racist because it is by nature a costume, anyone who labours under those beliefs is so irrevocably wrong that they are pointless to talk to. Also, can I point out that the side-by-side comparison of Blackface to colouring the skin and wearing fake hair to appear as an animal is pretty offensive in its’ own right. In the historic words of young Michael Jackson:
Now: to all those white people who give a damn if they are racist pieces of shit, let me lay some truth on y’all:
Blackface was racist when it was invented to make White people feel better about assigning a property value onto human life, reducing a person to a commodity, and reducing an entire continent into nothing but a big human Wally World, when they could bring a nigger, a slave, into the theatre without having to sully their hands by educating a Black person or putting one into a situation that might get out of hand.
Of course, in those days the be-all and end-all of black performance for whites started and ended on the end of a rope.
Blackface was racist when it continued, as a way to make White people feel better about assigning a judgement onto a person’s skin, assigning varying levels of humanity to people based on just how close they could come to alabaster. To show them how much better they obviously were compared to those niggers that they probably never had to meet face to face.
Blackface was racist when it was a black face behind the Blackface.
Blackface was racist in 1978 when the Black & White Minstrel Show was one of the most beloved and watched light entertainment series on British television.
Blackface is racist in twenty goddamn twelve because the only way to caricature Kanye West is to evoke the shuckin’ and jivin’? The only way to caricature Kanye West, one of the most flamboyant and recognisable and entertaining creative minds in contemporary music is to fall back on a legacy of dehumanisation?
And for the record, when you reduce a race to a costume, that act of reducing a race to a costume is racist.
P.s. “half white and the other half is a lot of things” might as well read as “half white, half really really white”
*PLEASE DO NOT DELETE THIS NOTE OR CHANGE THE SOURCE, THANK YOU*
Traditional Aurora costume, no short skirts here!
and the extra 2 feet of fabric makes it 30 bucks more than the short skirt version! Yay Capitalism!
Is there not one about the war bonnet?
Bringin’ this back.
Not only because Halloween is coming up, but because the lovely golden-zephyr was gracious to make one about Romani “costumes”!
Remember, as this-is-not-native reminds us, there are endless cute, sexy, funny, even offensive costumes that don’t perpetuate racist stereotypes. There is really no excuse.
Why hullo thurrrr, cultural appropriation.
1) This be a white girl trying to be Asian or some shit. I don’t know.
2) It’s tagged “chink”
3) It’s also tagged “geisha” and “chinese”
4) I’m not sure why
5) And I’m just shaking my head, because none of those tags are accurate, nor do the words “geisha” and “chinese” equal each other, or relate to each other in any way, other than “You don’t know the difference between Japan and China”
Here’s one of the various problems with, for example, “dressing up as a Native American” for Halloween:
Society defines “Native American” or “American Indian” as a racial group. There are a whole different host of problems with this (for example, it erases the diversity of the thousands of cultures and tens of millions of individuals that lived in the Americas in the pre-Columbian era), but for the moment I won’t address these issues, I’ll be addressing a different issue.
So, if Native American is a racial group, akin to black, white, Asian, et cetera, then “dressing up as a Native American” by putting on knock-off stereotypical plains-Indian garb is as racist as putting on black-face and saying that you’re going to be an African American for Halloween. A culture, a race (even if race is societally constructed), an ethnic group is not a costume, is not a set of tropes and stereotypes.
You don’t get to be a Chinaman for Halloween, you don’t get to be part of the Jim Crow Show for Halloween, just like you don’t get to be a Native American for Halloween. I mean, you can technically do what you want, but the bottom line is that it’s racist.
If This Were Cultural Appropriation “Ask Alice”…
I’m Irish, and people dress in ‘Kiss me, I’m Irish!” t-shirts all the time on St. Patrick’s Day…isn’t it the same thing?
The experience of ethnicity amongst white individuals in the US is almost exclusively symbolic. The claim that “I’m oppressed too because there was a time when people didn’t like the Irish” does not hold water because identifying as Irish in today’s context does not impact your life outcome in any negative way – it is a symbolic ethnicity. You get to choose to participate in your ethnicity when it is convenient or pleasurable for you to do so. A person from a historically underrepresented group does not get to shed themselves of their identity nearly as easily as you are able to – it is a very real and concrete part of their existence with regards to how they navigate in the social world.
But what about whiteface? Minorities are racist towards white people all the time…why is that okay?
In a nutshell, Racism = Prejudice + Power. Individual people of color do not have the power in this culture, therefore reverse racism is impossible. P.O.C.’s can be prejudiced against certain people, just the way anyone in a marginalized group can be, but they cannot be reverse-racist because of their lack of power within the systems and structures of American society. While I certainly don’t advocate the aforementioned, it certainly isn’t a justification to make the behavior acceptable – it’s wrong regardless.
Well, why don’t historically underrepresented groups just educate better?
It is not up to historically underrepresented people to make oppression more palpable to you; This implies an undue burden. For example — why should a Native person take all the responsibility to educate people about their culture? That would imply a privilege to interrogate or force that connection on someone else. Instead, do some initial research on your own – For the most part, most high-schoolers are taught at least some rudimentary level of research skills and methods. If you have further questions that you’d like to ask someone from a racially-marginalized group, you now have some background research and information to further the discussion. Showing effort means something. Most people will be appreciative of it!
But, I’m oppressed, too. What about me?
Instead of complaining and insisting that you share the same plight as oppressed people, become an ally. Be respectful, humble, and inquire. Examine yourself critically! Examine your position within society critically.
What is privilege and how does it relate to me picking out a costume at Halloween? Aren’t there better ways to address the issue?
Part of privilege is thinking you have the right to define things, conversations, contexts, and pick and chose what you want to talk about, listen to while ignore things you are uncomfortable with. It has nothing to do with merit (something you’ve earned), it is something you are born with. If you think you have a right to demand how someone from a historically underrepresented population should speak to you about their experiences of oppression (ie, “it makes me uncomfortable that you’re bringing this up this way…”), that is part of the problem. Instead, it would be more useful to do some internal reflection on privilege.
But, if you don’t share these cultures, they’ll die out! People should be happy we’re promoting their culture!
“Not sharing” culture doesn’t make it die out. There were historical reasons and oppressive policies design to stamp out marginalized cultures around the world. Saying, “it’ll die if you don’t share it” is a gross simplification of entire histories of marginalized persons. Not to mention, the means by which you’re “promoting” another culture are probably highly inaccurate and very stereotypical, at best.
But what about people of other cultures wearing things from American culture? For example, a person from Japan wearing a Sesame Street shirt?
First, let’s distinguish the difference between the sacred and the mundane. Sesame Street is not a religious or sacred thing. While it may be special to you (heck, it’s special to me), it is secular (mundane) and is not something tied to faith or something deeply ingrained in an entire culture’s way of being.
America is a world power. Sesame Street is a multibillion-dollar television show with many investors, lawyers, and hundreds of patents, trademarks, and copyrights. Sesame Street is not vulnerable in the same way that a culture is. Sesame Street has not been trampled on for centuries. People have not made fun of Sesame Street, told you that it’s not special, told you that they know how special it is without actually ever having seen it, and haven’t made sweeping generalizations or assumptions about this children’s tv show. And even if they had, this has almost definitely been on an individual level and not been indoctrinated by an entire nation. Let alone from the people in power of the nation in which you live. For your entire life.
Last year, I wore a costume like that…are you calling me a racist? I bought a costume like that for this Halloween…am I a bad person?
“It’s not about whether you’re a good person; prejudice and privilege and the blind spots they create, these are things good people are going to struggle with all their lives. We’re all human beings, we’re all going to be prone to having blind spots and preconceived notions – that’s the nature of being human, we’re imperfect. This attitude that, “I’m a good person, therefore I shouldn’t be questioned on things” is kind of like, “my bathroom is clean, so I don’t need to clean my bathroom.” We’re always going to gravitate toward having these flaws and misconceptions, and it’s impossible for us to always be aware of how our privilege is affecting our worldview and our actions. The key to being a “good person” is to constantly challenge yourself and be open to being challenged, and to respond to criticism with humility.” — Jay Smooth
My Halloween costume for this year. I just ordered it :)
Being racist for Halloween is super groovy.
Media is overrated.
Remember when Halloween was fun? Know that it still is? Yea. Remember when THE MEDIA NEVER BITCHED ABOUT COSTUMES BEING RACIST!? Those. Were. Good. Times. Now apparently dressing up as a Geisha or a Mexican is racist. Really people? Come on! Seriously! Pull your heads out of your arse and stop complaining about every little thing that you can twist the world into thinking is racist.
Oh, sorry, let me go as a zombie. Oh wait, I can’t, because that’s racist too. Well then let me go as a cute little dutch girl. Whaaa? Racist? How the hell is that racist!? I can’t go as a zombie nazi or a WW2 evacuee? Dude, whatever. Get off your high horse and let the kids have fun and be whatever they want. Seriously. Halloween is about creativity and having fun… and… getting lots of candy… So like, don’t interfere with one of the best holidays out there.
(I personally thought the costume was rather cute, and I thought it was nifty that it was kind of historical in a sense too. But apparently the media looooves to make a big deal out of anything and everything they can.)
Remember when we could all be racist and no one cared? Good times, gooooood tiiimes.