by Devana Petrovic, Staff Writer
Topics surrounding culturally appropriative Halloween costumes, and the general audacity of what some people choose to dress up as, have floated around in past years. With that in mind, a lot has happened in the world since last Halloween — one major event being the Black Lives Matter movement, sparking increased discussion and action on racial justice. It is so important to be particularly conscious of how some stereotypical costumes can be harmful to the communities they are intended to represent.
We’ve all seen the “Native American princess” costumes on the racks at Spirit Halloween. Really, it is an offensive and Americanized depiction of traditional Indigenous clothing, frankly far from accurate and honestly just a gross example of how neo-colonialism flourishes through capitalism.
It is probably unrealistic to expect Halloween costume companies to just suddenly stop selling every single problematic costume. But we as consumers can do our part in boycotting the brands that sell culturally insensitive costumes, as well as by speaking out about the costumes that continue to plague the Halloween season. We have the freedom to choose a costume from a seemingly infinite amount of possibilities, so there’s absolutely no excuse for a racist or offensive costume if you can just pick something else.
I understand that sometimes it can be confusing to know if a costume has offensive connotations. But at this point in time, where every social media platform is flooded with information about allyship and anti-racism, it’s not hard to find sources that clarify this sort of confusion.
Yet, sometimes even a quick Google Search is not necessary. All it takes is to just read the room a little in order to understand that dressing up as a sexy cop might be insensitive and tone-deaf right now as it eroticizes and glorifies an oppressive institution. But then again, if you ever feel that your costume might not be entirely appropriate, chances are that it isn’t.
Indigenous culture is not a Halloween costume; Black culture is not a Halloween costume — especially not for someone who is not of that origin. Maybe, the intent behind these costumes isn’t to harm anyone. But, the reality is that regardless of intent or knowledge, a “Native American princess” or a “sexy cop” is problematic and hurtful to BIPOC, who directly face the true challenges of costumes like these being normalized. These aren’t “just costumes,” but they are dismissive portrayals of cultural symbols, mockeries of sacred traditions, and a glorification of violent systems.
Costumes that portray racial stereotypes have not been OK for a long time now. It is especially problematic that costumes like these still exist in a time where there is a growing awareness of the oppression BIPOC communities face. But then again, it is just a costume and you can dress up as whatever you want. So, just be a fucking cat, and don’t flaunt your bad taste and racism on Halloween this year.