Culture is not a costume

halloweencostume

With Halloween comes many culturally insensi- tive costumes like these two offered by PartyCity.com perpetuating Native American stereotypes.

Every single year I watch as parents send their kids off Halloween night clad as Japanese in kimonos, Mexican mariachis, Arabic princesses, Native American princesses and many other discouraging culturally insensitive costumes.

A person might think that after a few slip ups, we might learn to do the bare minimum and be better humans, but even after widely publicized controversies such as the “Ghetto Fab” wig at Kohl’s and Target’s illegal alien jumpsuit, costumes of stereotypes still run amok.

A quick search on Google’s shopping section results in several pages of “Mexican costume ideas,” as well as “Mexican donkey costumes,” “sexy sarapes” and “tequila shooter girls.”

To treat a character like Batman or Superman as a Halloween costume is one thing, but to treat an entire ethnicity as a costume is something else. It suggests that people consolidate the actual broad diversity of a culture with caricatures and characters.

Dressing up as an ethnicity, race or culture that is not your own is problematic and racist; a culture is not a costume. All you are doing is perpetuating stereotypes and racism about a group of people.

One of the most prevalent cases occurs when someone who’s not black decides to do blackface, especially considering the historical context. However, the message applies to all races and stereotypes — and not just during Halloween.

The more we look at people as caricatures, the harder it is to operate as a respectable democracy. What deduces from this kind of costuming is the belief that these people are not truly American.

It treats a minorities as if they are not a people like everyone else, or rather that they are an idea, a concept.

So if this Halloween you were planning on throwing on your “sexy geisha” costume, think twice about the stereotypes you are perpetuating.

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