by special correspondent Thea Lim
Thanks to the Toronto Asian Arts Freedom School for helping me figure out just why I have a hard time with Halloween, and for allowing me to share our strategies with Racialicious!
I’m a Halloween party pooper. I do a dismal job of dressing up. My last costume consisted of a baseball hat with googly eyes and mouse ears. I’ve only given out candy once. Some years I’ve even hidden upstairs in the dark, ashamed of my lack of candy, pumpkin and sense of fun.
I’ve always felt like a bit of a jerk for not participating in the festivities. It doesn’t come that naturally to me – I spent most of my childhood in a country where Halloween wasn’t really celebrated, except as a club night. But since I moved back to North America 8 years ago, Halloween has seemed more like an obligation than a party zone, and every year I fail to rise to the challenge.
A year ago a new friend pointed out to me something that Angry Asian Man nicely illustrated on this here blog a few weeks ago: Halloween is not just a time to wear fake blood and fishnets, it’s also…racist!
Mainstream North American culture likes to define itself as cultureless, but Halloween is a very cultural practice. Not only is it a little weird (Just look at it from the point of view of an outsider. Send your kids out to strangers’ houses and tell them to ask for candy? Decorate your house like a graveyard? Dress up like a sexy version of a public health worker?) it is also based on difference – the point of Halloween is to dress up as “something different.” So how do people who are often made to feel visually different – you know, like people of colour – experience Halloween? The average Halloween costume tells us a lot about what we culturally consider to be abnormal.