It’s a culture, not a costume
By Daniel Pinzon
Halloween is known as a day to dress up, a day to be something either imaginary or real, a day to play pretend.
However, some costumes that people dress up as are offensive. Out of all the costumes to choose from, how did race, ethnicity, and culture become choices?
Most of these costumes are based completely on stereotypes. There is no real reference to the culture, which is the problem when people try to dress up as another race. People may dress up as a stereotype for shits and giggles, but that doesn’t help society become less entrenched in stereotypes.
It’s disappointing and damaging to dress as a stereotype and be identified as a certain race. For instance, if a person paints his face yellow and squint his eyes so people know, “Oh, I guess you’re Asian for Halloween.” Or if a person wears a sombrero with a mustache, others would see that as dressing up as a Mexican person. The simplicity of costumes encourages stereotypes. In reality, these stereotypes do not capture a culture’s essence.
That’s the thing. It’s Halloween, and people can dress as anything imaginable. Whether it’s a last-minute idea or an elaborate attempt to be funny, I would rather people stay away from race as a costume idea. There’s more to these people than the color of their skin and their physical features.
Why would anyone want to pinpoint the negatives of a culture and display that to the world? A person may argue that they have seen many of these people act a certain way and therefore the stereotype is true. That’s not the case. Stop generalizing. Take into consideration that other people also define the culture and that stereotypes aren’t true.
If a person is not a member of that cultural society, then they won’t be able portray that culture in its purity. They can observe another culture and study from what they learned, but it doesn’t make the person a part of that culture. A person can embrace another culture and allow influence in his culture, however that doesn’t establish a new culture for oneself.
I’m Colombian, and if I were to see someone with a bag of white powder labeled “cocaine” in one hand and a cup of coffee in another, I would be offended that not only does one think that this simple equation equals Colombia, but also that the person disregarded all other aspects of that culture.
Cultures and ethnicities, including Africans, Native Americans and Muslims, are generally the go-to “costumes.” These are the cultures the United States has had bad history with: We took the land from the Native Americans, we can never forget slavery of African-Americans, and a Muslim costume is typically linked to terrorism.
I’m against costumes that are blatantly stereotypical. If someone was to actually do research of a culture and portray an icon of that culture, though, I think that’s permissible.
“WE’RE A CULTURE, NOT A COSTUME. YOU WEAR THE COSTUME FOR ONE NIGHT. I WEAR THE STIGMA FOR LIFE.” A the flyer on Eastman Tower’s lobby bulletin board best explains it, accompanied by a powerful photo taken by Leah Woodruff. The flyer was in all caps to show how upsetting it can be when people dress up as another’s culture.
Why take a chance and possibly offend someone when it’s just as easy to be a dragon, a zombie or a vampire? Halloween already lost its true meaning of scaring away the ghosts, so why not dress up as a ghost? Why be a human on Halloween?