Culture isn’t a costume


Julia Labban

As Halloween nears, many are deciding what they’re going to wear for the holiday. One of the often ignored by-products of Halloween is cultural appropriation and the disrespect it entails. It happens all the time; someone picks an offensive costume to flaunt on Halloween night that offends someone’s culture. These racist costumes need to stop being made and consumers need to stop buying them.

Costumes based on race or culture are harmful because they serve as a vehicle that people can use to appropriate someone else’s background. This is problematic in that it takes the credit and appreciation away from the group that founded their own culture and a dominant group strips them of it, calling it their own and expecting to be fawned over. As if that offense isn’t enough, the oppressed culture is still seen in a negative light for their practices, but those from the dominant culture are seen as something to be emulated and interested in. It is hurtful because it makes it so that the piece of culture is appreciated only when someone outside of the original group uses it.

Costumes like these are also offensive because they treat people’s cultures like punchlines. Deep-rooted traditions and practices are seen as a joke rather than an art form to be respected. Treating an entire culture as if it were strange and laughable is unacceptable. If someone were to wear something based on the white citizens of the United States in way to make fun of the group, some people would be outraged, even though this wouldn’t be likely to happen since Americans have a tendency to steal things from others rather that form their own culture. But the point is that no one wants to be treated in that manner, and everyone’s culture deserves to be respected.

Another negative aspect of the costumes is that they┬áreinforce false, highly offensive stereotypes. Most of them contain errors that completely misinterpret the culture they are attempting to emulate. This results in the continuation of the oppression and racism that a group faces, preventing them from reaching racial equality. This situation is often made light of and not taken seriously, even though it’s immensely damaging to the oppressed group. Unless these costumes stop being made and worn, there will still be racism the group has to face.

Many argue that these costumes are either appreciating or making a harmless joke towards a culture, but they don’t realize how harmful their actions really are. If someone truly a appreciates a culture, they should be able to admire it without stealing it for themselves. Dominant groups’ constant efforts to make things theirs really shows where their intentions lie. As for jokes, situations like these shouldn’t be taken lightly. A member of an oppressed group may be able to laugh it off in the public eye, but the pain they feel can’t be ignored.

Racist and appropriating costumes are still worn today, despite equality that people claim this country has. They enforce false stereotypes, strip away the positive aspects of a culture, and make a joke of people’s backgrounds and lives. These harmful costumes need to stop being made and worn to give all races and cultures the respect they deserve.