When choosing a costume this Halloween season, you have to take into consideration the history associated to the costume you plan on wearing.
In previous years, costume wearers have created controversy for the use of blackface, kimonos and Native American-inspired costumes that generalize and denigrate entire cultures. It’s not a matter of whether a costume is racist or not: the fact of the matter is when it comes to inequalities and oppression, there are statistical facts supported by historical and social evidence to back the oppression of minorities. To dehumanize and wear a costume to try to convey an entire culture for a night is disrespectful and troubling.
The history behind blackface has racial undertones and carries hatred for the African American community. Additionally, the use of kimonos and Native American apparel for Halloween is disrespectful to the traditions behind the garments.
If you’re taking from another culture to dehumanize and sexualize for the night, it’s clearly not to show appreciation. Choosing a racist costume is insensitive and perpetuates racial issues into jokes.
Fostering the denial of race in a racist costume as a fun costume idea is basically privileged people choosing to ignore the social issues of that race, allowing the subordination and psychological repression of that individual’s entire culture.
Cloaking blackface or using headdresses, kimonos or any cultural-related novelty costumes isn’t the most beneficial way to show support of that already marginalized group of people. If you have appreciation for that culture, support them in their movements such as Black Lives Matter, or for Native Americans, protecting treaties.
Here’s some advice: if the costume you are planning to wear has ties to inequalities, genocide, wrongful treatment, or systematic racism or sexism embedded in their culture, and the costume is trying to portray them in a negative or sexualized way, it’s simply wrong.
You can’t choose to only show appreciation one night of the year and then choose to be a bystander when minorities have to face systematic oppression in their daily life. You may be entitled to your opinion about race playing a major role in costumes, but it’s been proven to be distasteful and uncalled for to minorities, which should be enough to put an end to racist costumes itself.