Halloween, Cultural Appropriation, And How To Not Fuck Up This Year
Halloween's a great time to get dressed up, have a few drinks, watch Hocus Pocus and eat Reese's Pumpkins. But it's also that time of year where people are great at being arseholes and relying on cultural appropriation to find their perfect outfit for the night. Whilst we know that The Unedit's readers are woke enough to know that the likes of blackface, sugar skulls and yellow face are off limits, we dare say that our readers do know people that could benefit from the reminder.
First thing's first: someone else's culture is not a costume.
It seems simple, but so many people seem to think that All Hallow's Eve is an exception to the rule. It's not. So if you're white and blonde, I'd head back to the drawing board if you plan to be stepping out tonight as Pocahontas. The same applies for the non-black man who's donning dreads for the night. I could bring up further examples, but we'd like to think that you get the picture just from those alone. However, if you're still a bit lost - or know someone that is thinking of being disrespectful with their costume choices tonight - here are some pointers:
- Take a look/think about your costume. Does it have relation to or undertones of cultural, racial or ethnic groups? If yes, it's likely a dick move, even more so if you don't belong to that group. We suggest you ditch the costume. If we still have to convince you, consider their history and think about their oppression and the discrimination that they have faced as a marginalised group. Have you considered the lines you could be crossing?
- Are you turning a person's everyday culture into a caricature? Using your privilege to 'dress up' as them for the night is not only mocking, but also dehumanises their culture.
- Quite simply put: would anyone be offended by your costume? How would you like it if someone dressed up as a 'dead' or 'sexy' or [insert some other adjective here] version of you or something that meant a lot to you?
- Think about your props. What significance do they hold to someone else? Is it an everyday commodity or is it something with meaning to another culture/group of people? For example, a Native Indian headdress has equal significance to military medals. Don't make a joke of something that's majorly symbolic to someone else.
- Are you any of the following: a sombrero and poncho-wearing Mexican? A hula girl? A Native American? A Japanese geisha or samurai? A Rastafarian? A character that reinforces racial stereotypes? Just NOPE.
If you need some extra advice on how to not fuck up this Halloween, here's an incredible video from Teen Vogue:
Additionally, the University of Utah's Student Affairs Diversity Council sent out a newsletter to students to help them navigate the spooky holiday without being guilty of cultural appropriation:
'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.'
Whilst we could dig even deeper into this, we'd like to think that the small number of tips that we've provided is enough to confirm your choice of a costume that won't offend someone.