Costume Misidentity

Just this past weekend was Halloween, a time when a majority of people embrace a different identity for the night. Halloween has become a strange gray area, when is the line being crossed? People embrace various costumes and personalities, but when is it considered going too far? This article from the Huffington Post published a post asking Americans their opinion on Halloween costumes. The majority, 55%, felt that people should wear whatever they want regardless of if it is offensive. A shocking 47% of Americans also felt it was ok for white people to wear blackface on Halloween.

This poll parallels with the concept of racialization covered in class as well as Limerick’s piece about a haunted America. The practice of blackface came about in the early 19th century in minstrel shows, it essentially served as a platform to portray negative stereotypes and mock the black community. The use of blackface is rooted in a derogatory and negative nature. The use of blackface in costumes today is in a way romanticizing the past and the harsh truth of its original intentions. As Limerick discusses in her piece we often brush over the brutal truths of the past which is in a sense what is happening with the use of blackface today.

I personally feel that wearing blackface, even on Halloween, should not be acceptable. It plays down the historic value. The same applies to costumes such as that of native americans, transgenders, or various other culturally oblivious costumes. Mocking another person’s culture or a historical and cultural crime should be glorified in costumes worn around during a day as celebration. Is it acceptable to wear costumes that encompass another culture when it revisits a dark past?


2 thoughts on “Costume Misidentity

  1. This topic can easily be fought on both sides because one can easily say that ” I am not doing anything races, im just wearing a costume”. For me i say no, one can not wear a costume of another race because one may react to it a certain way than another from the same race. No matter what dressing as another culture in general can send mix signals to people especially intentions as for why someone did dress that way.


  2. Personally, I think it’s okay to wear costumes that encompass another culture even if that culture does have a dark past. To me, when someone dresses up as a person from another culture during Halloween I see it as someone showing appreciation for that culture. However, I think there’s conditions to when it is appropriate. I believe if someone were to portray that culture in a derogatory way, whether it’s acting out negative stereotypes or sexualizing a traditional outfit, then it becomes a problem. However, if someone did extensive research on that culture’s history, clothes, values, and practices then it would be acceptable. Overall, I believe if people are going to dress up as someone from a different culture they have to be considerate of that group of people by showing that they respect their clothes, values, and practices and understand the challenges they have faced in the past.


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