Racist Halloween Costumes (and Slut Shaming) are Never Okay

Slut Shaming on Halloween: When most people want to bash Halloween costumes, it’s probably easiest to start by slut shamming or assuming that all girls want to dress in barely any clothes for Halloween. When I went out to some Halloween festivities this past weekend, sure there was a girl who was freezing her ass off with her breasts hanging out too, but I wasn’t offended by that. I had to hold back some mean comments though. It’s her choice, not hurting anyone. And if you call her a slut, are offended by women being sexual, you are slut shaming so DON’T DO IT. Leave her alone, let her express herself in her own way.

Racism on Halloween: What DID offend me was the racist costumes though. Why did these white boys think it was okay to dress in traditional Arab clothing? It’s not like they were trying to honor a culture that they respected. Did they think it was it funny? Even if they did, they are so clearly WRONG. Stereotyping hurts everyone. How is dressing up as another race even a costume?

Me as Frida? Frida is one of my favorite artists and I find her very inspirational. I thought she would be a perfect person to dress up as – except for one thing…people (especially, maybe exclusively, white people) should NEVER dress as another race. Halloween is not an excuse to be racist or a day we can cover up racism by saying “it’s just a costume.”

If you’re a white person who is still confused or unsure about why it’s not okay to dress up as another culture or race, take it from other races…if it offends them, don’t do it. If it offends them, you don’t have the right to question them, make fun of them, or ignore them. You are ignoring your white privilege by doing so.

EDIT: After reading more articles and speaking  with a variety of people on the topic of racist Halloween costumes…I guess I have something to add. Calling out racist costumes doesn’t end racism and it also doesn’t make you not racist. There is a lot more work to be done when it comes to equality than changing costumes – we must dig deeper to understand and fight against those stereotypes. We must educate others why it’s not okay.

So if I wanted to dress up as Frida, why is that not as bad as some white guys in Muslim costumes? Well, first Frida is one person not a race. Anytime you make a statement or comment about another race as a joke or about a stereotype, it’s probably – okay always – racist. However, dressing like one admirable person of another race isn’t problematic to the same degree. It can be done in a respectful way but if done poorly (like painting your face) it can quickly turn very bad.

The point is: If you want to celebrate someone of another race do it respectfully and intelligently – but that’s easier said than done.

We’re A Culture, Not A Costume

9 Ways You’re Wrong About Your Racist Costume

My Culture Is Not A Trend

Racist Halloween Costumes  9 Ways You re Wrong About Yours

4 responses to “Racist Halloween Costumes (and Slut Shaming) are Never Okay

  1. Very much agreed on all points, especially the slut-shaming point.

  2. Thanks for your comment on BitchMag.org! I’d love to know what you thought of my critique of costume activism from a POC perspective: http://alexfelipe.wordpress.com/2012/11/01/thats-racist-but-not-how-you-might-think/

    – – –

    “The analysis about the costume racism is the easy part. The hard part comes in the question of why we focus on the symbolized over the symbol?

    I’m sad to say, I think it’s because we middle-class Western people of colour more or less like it this way.

    Fighting the big fight against the status quo, against the socio-political-economic system we live in, against imperialism, threatens our own way of life. …

    But to do anything about it means risking a loss of our own cherished position in the middle. We are second class citizens, but we aren’t at the bottom and we hold out hope that we can be one of the few allowed to rise up and join the elites up top.”

    • Thanks for sharing, always interested in different perspectives, especially of POC. I really like the way you put it.

      “If the costume is a symbol that offends because it reminds us that we still live in an unequal world why do we stop at the symbol and not continue on to what it symbolizes?”

      I agree that the priority is to fight racism and not just racist costumes. We should use racist costumes we see as a way to continue to focus on racism in society all around us.

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