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Culture is not a Costume

Halloween: the most anticipated time of the year (next to summer break and Christmas morning, that is). It’s the day where you can pretend to be someone else for a few hours, and whether you’re a child out saving trick-or-treaters as Superman or an adult cosplaying as your favorite game character, if you enjoy dressing up, you enjoy the holiday in itself.

However, becoming a different person means different things for people. For some people it means becoming your favorite fictional character, and for others it means painting yourself and dressing as a different ethnicity.

Now that Halloween is over, this issue will be swept under the rug, ignored, and won’t be talked about until October 2017, but that doesn’t mean this isn’t a prevalent issue year round. Since no one else seems to be addressing it too much this year, I will.

Dressing as a culture has shown to have an extremely different moral code than dressing as a character. This year alone I have seen a white adult male dress up as Trayvon Martin, smearing black face paint on his face, red exaggerated around his mouth, “blood” on his sweatshirt, and a package of skittles in his hands. I’ve seen a group costume, of someone dressed as Donald Trump and two white women painted black and dressed in rags while carrying fruit baskets. Year round people dress up as Native Americans, completely disregarding or not being aware of the current issues surrounding living, breathing Native Americans today such as the North Dakota Pipeline (DAPL).

People like this who dress as an innocent dead boy, Africans, or as Native Americans in improper wear, either don’t understand the implications behind their actions, or don’t care.

Dressing as a culture that isn’t yours, only to show that you care about it for a day and then forget about it as soon as November 1 hits, is disheartening to the people you chose to dress as. Standing Rock in North Dakota is facing crisis, claiming that the DAPL has a very likely chance of poisoning their water supply. The DAPL was originally going to be put in another area, but their white residents said the same thing, and so it was moved to Standing Rock.

And there’s people dressed as “Indians” just because it’s cute, it’s aesthetically pleasing, and/or they want the chance to wear a headdress, which you earn in a tribe.

Why dressing as an African American/African person is wrong should be self explanatory in itself. Blackface, although not illegal, is highly frowned upon in most of the areas of the United States. That much is obvious and has been obvious for a very, very long time.

Making yourself more aware of the current political, social, and economic issues that plague America’s minorities has a high chance of lowering the amount of ignorance its people are filled with. Ignorance is not always bliss, and culture is never a costume.