10 Halloween Costumes That Are Actually Racist, Even If You Might Not Realize It

Here’s what not to wear.

Halloween is around the corner and excitement is brewing, even during quarantine. But before you stock up on face paint and plastic accessories, let’s establish one rule this year: Don’t wear racist Halloween costumes.

Look, ideally this would go without saying. And yet, every year someone makes the ill decision to choose a racist outfit. No matter how prevalent it is, it’s not OK to mock or belittle other people’s cultures no matter the holiday.

And blackface isn’t the only offense. Even if you know enough not to try to change your skin color for Halloween (unless it’s to become a mystical creature like a Smurf, and that’s basically it), there are a lot of Halloween costumes you might think are fun or inoffensive, but are actually racist.

Before we go into specifics, here are a couple of general guidelines to help you not be racist this Halloween.

Broadly, dressing up as an entire people instead of a specific person is a bad idea. As comedian Kumail Nanjiani told GQ: "Dressing up as ‘a Black man’ is a bad idea. Dressing up as ‘Barack Obama’ is a mediocre idea. Dressing up as ‘Casual, Retired Obama’ is a funny idea — and a great opportunity to eat frozen treats while wearing comfy clothes." If you do go as a specific person, avoid figures of religious or cultural significance to a particular group to which you do not belong.

Finally, let’s be honest — it’s just not that hard to do two minutes of research to determine whether or not your costume is racist. It’s easy, fast, and worth it to avoid offending those around you, and embarrassing yourself. So, that being said, here are some costumes you may not think are racist, but that you should absolutely not wear this year.

The term "gypsy" is itself a derogatory term that has often been used to describe the Romani or Roma people, a traditionally nomadic ethnic group that lives primarily in Central and Eastern Europe, and has faced significant persecution throughout history, culminating in the Porjamos, or Romani genocide, under the Nazis in WWII.

Media portrayals of Roma, like Esmeralda from the Hunchback of Notre Dame, have depicted them as fortune tellers and swindlers, and to wear a "gypsy" costume is to play into the same stereotypes that people have used to justify the persecution of Romani people.

As NPR’s Leah Donnella states, it’s important to note that there is a big difference between actual "voodoo" religions, like Vodun, Vodou, Hoodoo, Vaudou, which combine elements of Catholicism and Vodun, a religion of the West African Yoruba people, and the voodoo that’s portrayed in pop culture.

In his paper "Haitian Vodou and Voodoo: Imagined Religion and Popular Culture," Harvard professor Adam McGee points out that the "voodoo" we often see in media has little to do with the religion, and more to do with racism:

To wear a voodoo costume ignores the real religious significance of some of the symbols, and plays in to a racist image created by the media.

Unless you were raised in Mexican culture, and observe Day of the Dead, the calavera, or "sugar mask," face painting associated with Día de los Muertos is not an appropriate costume.

"People need to understand that when they are wearing that calavera, that it’s not just a mask or something to decorate their face with," Yreina Cervantez, a Chicano/a studies professor at California State University, Northridge, told the Inquisitr. "What they are wearing is the symbolism of that eternal cycle of life, death and rebirth."

I… can’t believe I have to say this, but don’t dress up as a Nazi. Hitler and the Nazis are responsible for deaths of millions and millions of people. As if that weren’t reason enough to steer clear of this costume, the increased reach and public prominence of white supremacist groups should make you realize this outfit isn’t a joke.

Rastafarianism is a religion with Afrocentric ideology that originated in Jamaica in the 1930s, and is based on a specific interpretation of the Bible known as Rastology. Locs are considered one of the distinguishing marks of the religion, and they are seen as a covenant Rastas have made with God.

In other words, this religion is not something to be made light of in a Halloween costume.

As Celine wrote in "10 Halloween Costumes White People Need to Stop Wearing": "Pharaohs, Cleopatra costumes, Nefertiti costumes, anks, etc. is not for white people to wear [sic]. The Ancient Egyptians were basically the only Black, African civilization given any exposure or respect, and even then their blackness is systemically denied."

In 2013, Katy Perry dressed as a Geisha at the American Music Awards. Her costume received significant backlash, including from Jeff Yang, who wrote in the Wall Street Journal:

Trump’s proposal for a border wall with Mexico isn’t funny. It’s a policy that has been used to justify racism directed toward Mexican and Latino communities. As activist Jeronimo Saldaña wrote in a petition to have the above costume removed from Amazon’s website:

You might think that you’re throwing a nod to a fun character, but you’re actually taking a culture to which you don’t belong and turning it into a whimsical costume. And without knowing the full sordid history behind such stories, your costume could be at most violent and at least painfully ignorant.

Let’s be clear: Covid-19 is not something to make light of. The death toll, globally, was more than 1 million people at the time this article was published, with 34.3 million reported cases in total (and likely millions more than even that).

And as the virus is used as an excuse to direct racism toward China (even dubbed the "Chinese virus" by the President), targeted groups could be offended by your costume.

So go forth, enjoy Halloween! But before you go out, take a few seconds to consider whether or not your costume is racist. If you’re not sure, look it up. Once you’ve established that it’s not, take your awesome (not racist!) costume, go to awesome parties, and eat candy, in the true Halloween spirit.

Choose an edition:

Source: Read Full Article