It's October folks. Pumpkin spice everything is back, leaves are turning (if you live somewhere with actual nature), and someone somewhere has already started playing Christmas music. This also means we are rapidly approaching Halloween, or as I refer to it, National Cultural Appropriation day. Why do I call it such? Because it seems to be the one day of the year that everyone seems to think they get a pass to be racist because "it's a costume". I am not so sorry to burst your bubble folks, but you do not get a pass to be insensitive.
One would think we wouldn't still need to have this discussion every single year, but as a recent interview with Megyn Kelly proves, there are still a whole lot of people who think being racist for Halloween is fine.
So for those of you who are struggling to figure out how you can possibly have fun on Halloween night without being racist, I'm here to provide you with some very easy guidelines.
Don't Do Blackface
I mean...do I really need to explain why blackface is just about the most racist thing you can possibly do? The number one excuse I hear about this is "well how can I dress up as ___ without doing blackface!? People won't know who I am." Look, if I can put my hair in two side buns and put on a white frock and people know I'm the white ass, Princess Leah—you too can dress up as whatever black character without painting yourself black. If you seriously cannot figure out how to accomplish that, then you probably should just skip Halloween since you have zero creativity.
Don't Dress Up As People's Cultures
Yes, this means that "Sexy Pocahontas" and the "illegal Mexican" costume you were about to purchase, is out. Those are real people, who still face real consequences of these stereotypes you are enforcing and making a joke out of. Our cultures actually exist and have reasons and rules. They're not for ignorant bored white and other POCs to hop in and out of when it's convenient for you. Guess what, while you dress up and pretend to be a geisha for 4 hours on Halloween, come November 1st, actual geisha's still existed and still have to deal with the ignorant shit you just helped perpetuate.
If You Have To Ask, It's Probably Racist
Every year when anyone discusses this topic, there is a response of monthly well-meaning white people who want POCs to approve every single costume idea. We're not going to do that, if you want me to approve your costume, send a check. It's not that hard to figure out. Is it a stereotype? Is it a culture? Would the average person side-eye you? If you answered yes to any of these questions, it's probably racist or offensive. If in doubt, just choose something else. There a million and one costume ideas that don't involve race at all, choose one of those.
Regarding Black Panther...
Lastly, every year there's a popular costume character or idea, usually from whatever pop culture craze hit that summer. Last year it was Pennywise the clown from "It". In 2016 it was Harley Quinn from Suicide Squad. As we all know, Black Panther was released this year and was a worldwide hit. This, of course, means that everybody and their grandma wants to be a Black Panther character this year. However, I've seen a lot of debate about if non-black people are allowed to dress up as Black Panther characters.
My opinion on this topic is as follows...As much as we black folks hold this movie close to our hearts...at the end of the day, it's a fake movie and story with zero real-world cultural significances or value. As long as people are not in blackface, I do not see the issue here. They are comic book characters open for anyone to enjoy and identify with. Most of us who weren't already hardcore nerds didn't even know who T'calla and friends were prior to 2018.
Just don't do blackface and have fun. I promise it is possible to enjoy Halloween and not be racist at the same time. I’ve been doing it for 27 year. You can start now for the low low price of $0.00.