Race and culture are not excuses for costume ideas

The only thing better than devouring leftover candy the day after Halloween, is scrolling through Twitter and looking at pictures of offensive costumes.

Surprisingly, there weren’t many problematic costumes reported this year as opposed to others. However, as a second generation Mexican-American, it is rather offensive to see people dress in Mexican garb.

Generally, costumes that are meant to represent an overall culture are disrespectful. This is because the costumes lead to stereotypical outfits that falsely represent mainstream charactertures of that culture. These costumes instill misrepresentations of a large group of people when you generalize them as such. 

Along with costumes revolving around race and culture, costumes that involve the use of blackface or whiteface are also hurtful because of the historical significance they hold. Although, this Halloween season proved that not everyone was in agreement.

In the case of Megyn Kelly, the former television host made claims supporting the use of blackface a few weeks back during an airing of her NBC show “Megyn Kelly Today.”

“You do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface for Halloween, or a black person who puts on whiteface for Halloween. Back when I was a kid, that was okay, just as long as you were dressing as a character,” Kelly said.

Kelly’s show has since been canceled and she has apologized to the public for her comments. However, her statement was able to kickstart a great conversation about what should and shouldn’t be worn as a costume.

Personally, there’s nothing wrong with paying homage to a person or character you admire if they’re a different race than yourself. However, the line is crossed when you physically change the color of your skin to mimic them. 

There are ways to make your costume identifiable beyond skin color. Rather than opting for the facepaint, focus on adding important details to your costume to make it distinguishable. Utilize props and catchphrases, and above all else, try and make your outfit nearly identical to the real thing. 

Take Today shows weather anchor, Al Roker, for example, who dressed as the white character Doc Brown from the film “Back to the Future.” Even without the use of whiteface, Roker’s costume was easily recognizable. 

However, because of the backlash Kelly had faced over her blackface comments, many criticized Roker via Twitter on the grounds of hypocrisy and confusion over his costume. They didn’t understand why it was acceptable for Roker to dress as a white character while Kelly had lost her job after defending blackface.

To which Roker responded on Twitter: “I can be Doc Brown, and I wear the outfit and wig and not change my skin color if you’re white, you can be President Obama if you want. Just don’t color your skin!”

Furthermore, feel free to dress up as Black Panther, Moana, Selena Quintanilla or even Frida Kahlo. Those are characters and people who can be easily identified through costume alone without the use of facepaint.

In contrast, “Asian” is not a costume. “Mexican” is not a costume. These are groups of people. When you dress as such, you indirectly state that those who identify as such look and act in the way you’re portraying them.

So next Halloween, if you happen to stumble upon someone wearing a costume that offends you, don’t attack them. Approach them kindly and have a civil conversation. 

Allow them to explain their side while you share yours. There’s no reason to point blame when peaceful conversation can be made.