ERR ON THE SIDE OF CAUTION
Editor, Daily News
Halloween is an excellent holiday to express creativity through costumes. Yet, every year there are a disappointing number of adult individuals who wear what can be extremely offensive, culturally inappropriate, or racially prejudiced costumes. I am not pinpointing anyone in particular, but simply hoping to create awareness of certain themes that should always be avoided. There are an endless number of alternatives.
Starting with culturally inappropriate costumes, some that come to mind are Native American, Mexican, Asian/Geisha, Indian, Inuit and Yupik costumes. Someone else’s culture should never be your costume. Not only is it insensitive, but in that culture it can be an honor to wear such sacred attire.
Wearing a Native American costume represents an indigenous culture that faced horrible genocide. Do not use privilege to your advantage, and honestly, these costumes are not only grossly exaggerated, but inaccurate as well. So you’re not really looking the part.
On that note, blackface should always be avoided no matter the circumstance. The origins of blackface have racist roots in minstrel shows that mocked and stereotyped African-Americans. The practice is entirely diminished in the entertainment industry for that very reason. However, if you want to paint your face any other color the options are limitless, why not pay tribute to the Joker?
This weekend, I personally saw somebody in the city dressed up in shaggy clothes with a cardboard sign that said “need money for crack.” This one hit home for obvious reasons. Someone else’s addiction or destitute lifestyle is never to be joked about. It is an inevitable issue sweeping the nation and affecting families worldwide, including our hometown.
As a general rule of thumb — if you have to question it, just don’t wear it. This includes your children as well because they need to be educated to not inappropriately depict others or view it as humorous.
I salute The University of Utah’s Student Affairs Diversity Council and their list of “no’s” released for students to avoid insensitive costume choices, part of it reads:
“Think to yourself: Does the actual name on the costume packaging say ‘tribal,’ or ‘traditional’? Does the costume include race-related hair or accessories (dreads/locs, afros, cornrows, a headdress)? Does the costume play into racial stereotypes? Does this costume represent a culture that is not my own? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you should rethink the costume and try again.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself. Please err on the side of caution.
Boston University student from Athol