[Image: Drummers wearing face paint march in a Dia de los Muertos parade.]
Halloween is not one of my favorite holidays. I’m really not into the occult, I don’t much enjoy playing dress-up, and most mass-marketed candy is not vegan (and, in the case of much vegan chocolate, possibly unethical). Lots of people do enjoy this holiday, however, and will be celebrating this weekend. Some are likely still deciding what costumes to wear.
Unfortunately, many will choose to wear a costume that is insensitive or downright offensive. Such people will often decry concerns for cultural appropriation and oppression as “political correctness.” But asking people to be aware of the impact of their clothing choices is simply asking them to treat others with respect.
Here’s a primer from Kat Blaque on why cultures are not costumes:
And a spoken word performance by Raven McGill about white people who thought it was funny to put on blackface and dress up like Trayvon Martin:
Finally, some more thoughts by Kat Blaque on what’s wrong with the costume based on Caitlyn Jenner’s Vanity Fair cover:
With infinite choices of what to wear on Halloween, there’s no reason to parody someone else’s culture, ethnicity, or gender identity. “Free speech” does not mean freedom from the consequences of that speech. For those who live every day with oppression, the negative impact of converting their lives to costumes is very real.
ETA: Also see this article with suggestions on how to talk to someone who is wearing a Native American costume.