Some may argue that our culture has become too sensitive. We are looking to be offended so we can complain about it. Has political correctness gone too far? Maybe.
But then there’s always October 31st to remind us that, yes, we still need to call out racist and inappropriate behavior.
On October 6th, a UCLA sorority and fraternity co-hosted a “Kanye Western.” Attendants dressed up as Kanye West and members of the Kardashian family. Students reportedly donned blackface in the form of face paint and charcoal.
Every Halloween, racist-themed parties are hosted by celebrities and college students alike. In these parties people dress up in stereotypical costumes. These costumes are meant to be tongue-in-cheek or clever but they end up being offensive. Students should be more mindful of their dress and actions during the Halloween season.
Though Halloween was originally meant to celebrate, honor and ward off the dead, it has now become a day to dress up as anything you are not.
There are costumes that attempt to transcend genetic makeup entirely. Some of the more popular costumes include: the Geisha, the Native American, the Eskimo and the Mexican bandito.
People need to acknowledge and remember that these costumes are, very inaccurately, based on real cultures with real customs and histories. While people may dress up for a day and pretend to be someone of a certain culture to acquire sugary substances, members of that culture are a part of that every day and get nothing.
These costumes are based on stereotypes that our society has about other cultures. Instead of honoring them through imitation, stereotypes are being perpetuated and ignorance about different ethnicities continues to spread.
The Mexican bandito costume, for example, is harmful to the culture because it spreads a caricature that all Mexican men are violent and aggressive.
People dress up in these costumes and don’t care to understand the meaning behind these sacred garments. Native American headdresses are built from individual eagle feathers and signify specific accomplishments. It’s an honor that’s earned, not something you earn money to buy.
Cultural costumes merit extra sensitivity, especially when the race or culture has been oppressed in the past. Native Americans have a history filled with suffering and now only have a fraction of the population and land they used to have. Their culture is something important to preserve. Wearing their traditional clothing trivializes that.
Besides getting it wrong, a lot of costumes made for women are extremely sexualized. You have the “sexy” cowgirl “sexy” geisha, the “sexy” Native American and the “sexy” Eskimo.
Sexy Eskimo costumes are not only inaccurate, but so impractical for typical -49 degree weather! One could certainly go to the northern circumpolar region in such a costume and freeze to death. These sexy costumes are insulting to a culture as a whole, but are also objectifying to minority women.
Halloween costumes are meant to be fun. People may dress up in offensive costumes to be funny, not realizing how harmful the costume really is.
As a generation, we are more progressive and tolerant, but there is still prejudice, racism and bigotry in our country and in the whole world. Cultural appropriation may not be on the same level of a hate crime but it is just as ignorant.