A whole lot of Halloween parties went down last weekend, so I might be a bit late in posting this reminder, but here’s hoping most folks chose to Do The Right Thing. If someone you know still hasn’t figured out how not to be a racist douchebag this Halloween, don’t fret, we have some recommended reading here, here, here and here. We’ll talk about anti-racist fashion some other time.
The text below is from a blog called sheresists, which no longer exists unfortunately. Have a fun, witty and culturally sensitive Halloween!
You’re not just taking one thing (for example, a war bonnet) from another culture, you’re trying to mimic an entire group’s racial identity when you ‘dress up’ as them. These costumes are often borrowed from pre-set stereotypes about what another culture “looks like,” how they dress, and how they act. What people fail to understand is that these stereotypes are not benign. They have real, material effects on people’s lives and their ability to move throughout the world. They both reinforce and are embedded in relationships and histories of power.
…When you put on a racist costume (especially sexy ‘ethnic’ costumes like the sexy Asian girl costume), you’re speaking back to histories of colonization and exploitation and you’re reinforcing the ideologies that legitimize violent institutions that abuse and sexually exploit women of colour (though, racist costumes speak to a history of colonizing and othering people of colour in general). Whatever your intentions, by sexualizing a different ethnic group, you are saying that it’s okay to fetishize certain groups of people and you’re reaffirming that they are, in fact sexualized and consumable beings. You may think it’s fun, funny, or even ironic, but you probably haven’t experienced the effects of these stereotypes.