Costumes shouldn’t dehumanize

By Maria Pena-Cornejo

Staff Writer


        Every Halloween, among the superheroes and princesses we also see the same types of costumes: offensive costumes that appropriate culture. Costumes should be fun, but not at the expense of others. A race is not a costume.
        Somehow, this doesn’t seem to register in the minds of people who parade through the streets wearing other people’s cultures as costumes. These people wear sombreros, mustaches and ponchos to portray Mexican people. Other times, they completely disrespect Native American culture by wearing inaccurate headdresses.
        Whenever I see others wearing stereotypical attire to portray Mexican people, I feel like that is how they view me. What people don’t seem to understand is that by wearing those costumes, not only are they appropriating culture, but they are also sending the message that my culture is “just a joke.”
A recent example of this is a costume for Disney’s new movie, Moana. Disney released the costume of Polynesian demigod, Maui, in which actual brown skin and tribal tattoos were used as a costume. After that, many users on Twitter began to express their outrage. Since when is a wearing someone’s skin an appropriate costume?
This may not come as a surprise to many people because we continue to see insensitive costumes every single year. People are offended by these crass, thoughtless costumes, yet nothing changes.
There is a huge difference between dressing up as your favorite character and a real person.
“Cartoon characters and movie characters. Those are costumes because they are fictional, but you don’t take a culture and wear it,” freshman Aden Dibabe said.
There is a huge difference between appropriation and appreciation. If someone truly wants to show their love for a culture, they should educate themselves first.
When you wear a geisha or an Indian sari as a costume, you’re not showing your appreciation. The Halloween stores sell horribly inaccurate cultural costumes. Most are a mixture of things that look vaguely “Asian.”
This is especially concerning when Blackface is part of a costume. Every year, a couple of white kids think it’s ok to paint their faces black to “be” a black person. Although many people are unaware of the horrible history of oppression that comes with Blackface, ignorance is not an excuse. It just says that people are not willing to learn and that they don’t care.
“I feel that it [Blackface] is a disgusting action that is degrading to me and the people who are a part of my culture,” sophomore Asia Robertson said.
This racist and demeaning practice resurfaces on Halloween like clockwork.
When people put on those costumes, they perpetuate negative stereotypes. These stereotypes follow people of color for their entire lives. When someone puts the degrading costumes on, it’s like saying that they believe everyone in that race or culture is that particular stereotype.
“They affect people more than we think,” freshman Evelyn Toscano said. These costumes “saying the stereotype is okay makes people think that about themselves.”
The tradition of mocking other races and cultures needs to stop. Regardless of the intentions, wearing the costumes that allow stereotypes to continue is despicable.
Being a person of color in the United States is hard enough without being considered a joke on Halloween.
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