Ghosts, witches, and pirates are seen all over campus on Halloween night. Some go trick-or-treating, and others go to parties. It’s fun for many to dress up as someone they aren’t, however, there are several costumes that are racist, sexist, transphobic, or simply insensitive.
I wish it was common sense, but it is not okay to dress up in black face to look like your favorite celebrity, actor, or character. Black face has been used by white people for years during minstrel shows, and it still holds a racist past. If you’re afraid your friends won’t recognize you without black face, you shouldn’t be wearing the costume in the first place.
On that same note, dressing up as a “Gangster” is also not acceptable, even without black face.
Another popular costume is dressing up as a native American with a tomahawk and feathered headdress, which is also incredibly racist. Your attire is perpetuating incredibly harmful and inaccurate stereotypes that overshadow the serious issues that indigenous people in this country face.
Other costumes that are racist are dressing up as a geisha, wearing an “illegal alien” shirt, or dressing up in a sombrero and Mexican serape. All of these perpetuate stereotypes, and, by doing so, also perpetuate racism.
Another would be dressing up as a “crazy person” with a straightjacket on. Straightjackets were placed on individuals who have been hospitalized and possibly put into isolation, and it is nothing to joke about.
Dressing up as a transgender individual if you are not transgender is also incredibly offensive. Usually these costumes are used to make fun of transgender females, but transgender males can also be affected.
Finally, there are the “sexy” costumes, which are appropriate as long as they are not in violation of any of the other Halloween costumes above.
What is not appropriate, is shaming individuals who wear these costumes as “sluts”, especially women. It is also not appropriate to cat call a woman wearing a “sexy cat” costume, and in case you were wondering, none of them were asking for it.
Halloween can be fun, but being part of a marginalized group and seeing someone make fun of your culture can make a typically fun night a total nightmare.