Although I'm now past the age at which I can go door-to-door asking for candy, I still consider Halloween one of my favorite holidays.
I've always loved planning and executing a fun, original costume and seeing other people's outfits. As I celebrated this Halloween I saw some pretty inventive and amusing costumes. I also saw costumes however, that bothered me due to their inappropriate and shameless cultural appropriation. I realize that many people may not take their festive garb seriously, but how you choose to dress can be extremely offensive to others. And so, people should think twice before donning a racial stereotype as a costume.
These include but are not limited to: sexy Indian, Mexican bandito, gangsta and geisha. Though many of these costumes can be bought at a store, it doesn't justify them. If confused about where to draw the line, keep this in mind: If a costume depends on dressing up as a different race, it's an insult not a costume.
I am of Native American heritage and when I see a girl dressed in buckskin with paint on her face and feathers in her hair, I feel angry, upset and marginalized. You are dressing as a stereotype that is offensive and ignorant. You are reinforcing racist images that have oppressed minorities in this country for centuries. It may not seem like a big deal, but by dressing in a certain way, it's possible to hurt real people with a careless, bastardized version of their culture.
Some people may say that they do not find it offensive and therefore no one else should, but that is not a decision they get to make for an entire culture. There are many other things people can dress as for Halloween; why subjugate an entire culture for one night of fun?
By dressing up as the stereotyped costume of another culture, you're saying that it amounts to nothing but that one perverse image. These images belittle and mock other ethnicities and cultures. Many say that it is in good humor, but it somehow lacks the comical element when it is actually hurting people. When dressing up as these stereotypes, people are making generalizations and perpetuating a standard of marginalizing another culture. This is simply not acceptable. As students at Geneseo, we represent a college that encourages diversity and defends its multicultural students.
Racism is still alive and well in the United States and it is much more harmful than many care to believe. These racial costumes only prove and reinforce this fact. So the next time you go out for Halloween, why not be a little more creative than a stereotype? Be a table. Really, be anything. I don't care. Just think about who you could be offending.