Tag Archives: halloween

Voices: Halloween — A White Privilege Christmas

By Arturo R. García

Halloween is getting worse by the year.

Consider last weekend, when the sight of Julianne Hough using blackface to dress as a character from Orange Is The New Black was followed within hours by the sight of two Florida men, Greg Cimeno and William Filene, adding themselves to the ranks of the rank with their Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman “costume.”

We won’t link to that image here. But we’d be remiss in not pointing out that their cohort, Massachusetts native Caitlin Cimeno, took the time out of her day to photograph a Black child without her consent and post this diatribe against her shirt bearing the words, Black Girls Rock:

First of all, sorry Hun but mommy lied to you & secondly if I was wearing a shirt that said something like the truth ‘white girls rock’ I would be stared at and called a racist cracker.

Well, now people are staring at them and calling them racists. And worse. And deservedly so.

But, of course, they’re not alone. Certainly Greg Cimeno and Filene aren’t alone in mocking Trayvon Martin. And, as Angry Asian Man points out, it’s not just the Black community being targeted:

Behold, the a-sholes who dressed up as bruised and bloodied Asiana Airlines flight attendants. This photo was apparently taken over the weekend at the Sidetrack Video Bar in Chicago.

Their costumes, of course, refer to Asiana Airlines Flight 214, which crashed earlier this year in San Francisco, killing three passengers. And yes, their name badges identify themselves as “Ho Lee Fuk,” “Sum Ting Wong” and “Wi Tu Lo” — the fake racist flight crew names that infamously ran as a prank on KTVU.

Under the cut, we’ll take a look at some of the best responses to what’s become a White Privilege Christmas — a sort of migratory call for every two-bit prejudiced reject from The Onion to show the world just how low they’re willing to go because they lack both imagination and humanity.
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Excerpt: On Halloween And ‘Native’ Costumes

The Wider Society Says: Totally cool. They are honoring Native Americans…they are just having fun…these people claim Native American ancestry…these are not racist costumes…so its okay…

I guess the Civil Rights Movement was only for certain groups and racism only counts against some minorities but not all.

Society as a whole does not condemn these outfits and they are even considered fashionable at the moment. While all hell breaks loose over other racist costumes, these tend to go without notice to the point that many consider it a legitimate or even fashionable option. Seriously, even progressive websites listing racist costumes conspicuously forget Native American costumes. I honestly did not attend a Halloween party yesterday because if I ran into a well-educated white and affluent peer of mine dressed as a Native American I do not know what I would do.
- From Speak Faithfullly

Open Letter to the PocaHotties and Indian Warriors this Halloween

by Guest Contributor Adrienne Keene, originally published at Native Appropriations

Dear Person that decided to dress up as an Indian for Halloween,

I was going to write you an eloquent and well-reasoned post today about all the reasons why it’s not ok to dress up as a Native person for Halloween–talk about the history of“playing Indian” in our country, point to the dangers of stereotyping and placing of Native peoples as mythical, historical creatures, give you some articles to read, hope that I could change your mind by dazzling you with my wit and reason–but I can’t. I can’t, because I know you won’t listen, and I’m getting so tired of trying to get through to you.

I just read the comments on this post at Bitch Magazine, a conversation replicated all over the internet when people of color are trying to make a plea to not dress up as racist characters on Halloween. I felt my chest tighten and tears well up in my eyes, because even with Kjerstin’s well researched and well cited post, people like you are so caught up in their own privilege, they can’t see how much this affects and hurts their classmates, neighbors and friends.

I already know how our conversation would go. I’ll ask you to please not dress up as a bastardized version of my culture for Halloween, and you’ll reply that it’s “just for fun” and I should “get over it.” You’ll tell me that you “weren’t doing it to be offensive” and that “everyone knows real Native Americans don’t dress like this.” You’ll say that you have a “right” to dress up as “whatever you damn well please.” You’ll remind me about how you’re “Irish” and the “Irish we’re oppressed too.” Or you’ll say you’re “German”, and you “don’t get offended by people in Lederhosen.” Continue reading

Miss(ed) Representations, Part One: ‘I’m a Culture, Not a Costume’ Campaign

By Sexual Correspondent Andrea (AJ) Plaid

Longtime Racialicious readers know this time on the calendar has prompted the R to read someone (or several folks) about their racist costumes or some other Halloween-related foolishness. Well, this year, Ohio University’s Students Teaching about Racism in Society (STARS) put on posters what we’ve been putting into words for quite a while.

I think that, for the most part, the campaign deserves the accolades, coverage, and support it’s been getting around the web, from Angry Asian Man to the 17,575 (and counting!) responses on the STARS president’s Tumblr to The Root to Bitch to the former Racialicious owner Carmen Sognonvi .

Of course, we can argue, among other things, that phenotypes don’t equal culture and cultures aren’t static or even talk about the historical-religious appropriation of Halloween itself.

My only quibble with the campaign is that I may have chosen photos where the models conveyed different body language. Not that the models didn’t pose how they wanted, being a student-driven campaign. What I do think is quite a few photographers rarely get The Shot in one shot; in fact, several photographers submit several photos for clients/collaborative partners to choose from.

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A Racialicious Halloween: Target Shopping Edition

By Sexual Correspondent Andrea (AJ) Plaid

From the same store that stays sold out of Princess Tiana dolls (especially the green-gowned ones), from the same store that stays sold out of the latest Black Barbies (I was lucky I got this one, button not included)….

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I saw this display for some Target “Spook-tastic Savings”….

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Which is fine–I still watch and collect DVDs, even though they’re becoming an obsolete medium–so I’d purchase some…until I saw exactly what was on sale.

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If my photo’s too blurry or the print too small, my deepest apologies. I tried surreptitiously to take the photo.  What’s on the shelf:

The BrothersThe Color PurpleDiary of a Tired Black ManEve’s BayouThe Five HeartbeatsGifted HandsGood HairPurple RainMenance II SocietySchool Daze…

…to name a few.

To those who may not know:  ”spook” is a racial slur for Black people.

To answer the question of where I saw this, the display was in a Target in downtown Brooklyn, NY, where a large number of its on-floor staffers are Black and has a very racially and ethnically diverse customer flow.

Of course, we can talk about intentions–the usual variations of “they probably didn’t mean it” that I heard from a couple of customers–but the impact is the continued perpetuation of an single old stereotype, even with a display of new(er) and varied representations of Blackness.

Just in time for the holiday.

I called over a sales associate, a very sweet young Black man.

“‘Spook’ is an offensive term referring to Black people. Having ‘spook-tastic’ and Black films together can be considered offensive.”

He looked at the display with surprise and apologized. “Oh really? I’m so sorry.  I’m not in charge of the display.”  He looked at it again, the “aha” moment spreading across his face.

“Is there a manager? If you want to let the person know…maybe I can speak to him or her?”

“Sure.” He found a manager in the next aisle.  He discussed the situation with her and came back to me.

I said to the sales associate, “Maybe you can find some horror films to put up on the display, which would be more appropriate. But “spook” and Black films…just nah.”  When I finished what I said, the manager peeked her head around the corner.

I walked away to try out my iPod on a display stereo to see if music was coming out of one speaker just on my speakers or if it was just jainking up on other equipment.

When I left the store, the associate, the manager, and a security guard gathered around the display, discussing it.

ETA: The sign was changed to something about their “low price promise.”  And I purchased a green-gowned Princess Tiana doll.

Photo credits: Andrea (AJ) Plaid

On Cultural Appropriation: Halloween and Beyond

by Latoya Peterson

While I was sick, I received a few interesting emails. While in the context of a larger Racialicious team discussion about Halloween, Andrea linked to a Sepia Mutiny post about Heidi Klum’s choice of Halloween costume.

Here’s the costume:

Fatemeh commented:

Though I have to admit, it was a bitchin’ costume, I don’t think it’s appropriate. I doubt Catholics appreciate it when people go as Jesus. I know lots of Muslims would have a shit fit if someone went as the Prophet Muhammad. I know that sometimes Hindus dress up as their deities for plays and such, but I doubt they’d appreciate it for a Halloweeen costumes. It’s different than dressing up as a Pope or a priest, which are human. You’re essentially dressing up as God.

Then, Fatemeh followed up with a link about how Hindu leaders were angered by Klum’s choice of costume.

Interested, I asked Fatemeh to do a post. But Fatemeh was flying to Denmark, Thea and I were sick, and the other correspondents had work constraints.

The following week, I got an impassioned email from reader Naomi, who wrote in about the treatment of Klum’s costume in an Us Magazine article.

Starting with the title, “Heidi Klum Explains Her Crazy Halloween Costume,” Naomi immediately launches in on the problematic nature of the coverage:

This article is horrible and ridiculous on so many levels:
1. The fact that Heidi Klum went to India and all she got out of it was an offensive Halloween costume idea.

2. The “othering” of non-Western cultures by making them look as odd and different as possible without even seeking to understand them or learn about them, proven by the following point.

3. This quote from the article, stated by Ms. Klum in regards to the goddess who inspired her costume: “I loved it because she’s so mean and killed all these different people and [had] fingers hanging off [her] and little shrunken heads everywhere.” As my Tamal friend pointed out–wtf, that’s not the point of the goddess at all.

4. That she is taking a RELIGIOUS figure and using it as a “scary” costume.. And that Us Magazine doesn’t find this offensive.. They even open with the gosh golly quote: ‘How did Heidi Klum come up with the idea to be a scary Indian goddess for Halloween?’

Then again, V.V. from Sepia Mutiny admits:

What think you, desis? My initial thought was that I should be offended. Then I thought, why? Is that reasonable? People dress up as versions of evil a range of characters, including ones with religious connotations, every year on Halloween. And this Kali is a pretty awesome costume. Klum certainly pulls it off with panache. Maybe that’s easier if you’re twelve feet tall and a model. She’s got all the details—look at what’s around her neck and waist!

While Halloween is three weeks in the past, I’ve been playing around with how this fits into the larger ideas of culture and appropriation. Klum’s costume is gorgeous in both execution and the technical sense. But, as the interview displays, Klum isn’t really concerned about the true meaning of the goddess outside of her immediate need for a cool costume.

Thoughts, dear readers?

And while we’re thinking, does anyone know what the hell Seal was going for with his costume?

Brand-new “Addicted to Race” episode out now (#44)!

by Jen Chau and Carmen Van Kerckhove

A brand-new episode of Addicted to Race is out! If you haven’t already, please subscribe to our podcast in iTunes. Click here to launch iTunes and subscribe today, it’s absolutely free.

RANT
The tendency for people to dress up as folks of other racial and ethnic groups for Halloween is the subject of Jen and Carmen’s joint rant today. The rant was inspired by this post on the blog Rice Daddies, and the subsequent discussion.

RACE CHANGERS UPDATE
Jen and Carmen bring you our first Race Changers update and discuss the issue of racial profiling. They ask whether people would be less inclined to see protests to racial profiling as “political correctness” if they were likely to be the target of such profiling themselves.

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Duration – 45:51
File Size – 21.1 MB
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What race are you going to be for Halloween?

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

not cuteHalloween is the one time of the year when it’s socially acceptable to prance around half-naked and take cultural appropriation to a whole new level by actually dressing up as people of different ethnicities. Hmmm… maybe I’ll go blonde and pass for white this year.

Thanks to the wonders of Web 2.0, it’ll be even easier this year to keep track of all the racist Halloween costumes for sale. I read about a new site called Costumezee on TechCrunch (yes I’m a nerd) the other day:

Search by tag, see related costumes, review costumes, give costume ideas ratings by stars, build your profile – it’s a little hard to find the RSS URL for a search but other than that Costumezee is very 2.0 and the company knows it. You can also view other users’ lists of costume ideas, so if you’re dying to find out what Michael Arrington is going to dress up as this year (?) perhaps you’ll be able to find out after he reads this post. The most important part of the site is that users can make their own costume suggestions – this is more than just a one way trip through affiliate links.

Check out the tag cloud: it’s fascinating to see what people are searching for. Apparently people are all about the creepy Burger King dude this year. But apart from that, popular searches include harem girl, pocahontas, sumo wrestler, indian warrior, egyptian queen, hula dancer, belly dancer, and my personal favorite: breasts.