Schneider: Your friendly reminder to wear conscious costumes this Halloween

Do not appropriate other cultures on Halloween — it’s still not okay.

Ellen Schneider

This column is the reminder you’ve been waiting for – cultural appropriation isn’t OK, not even on Halloween. The spooky season is not and never was an excuse to be ignorant. Cultural appropriation was never “in,” and offending cultures you aren’t part of and don’t understand is neither trendy nor acceptable.

I want to be clear this shift in acceptable Halloween costumes is not due to an increasingly sensitive society, nor is it a bunch of whiny liberals who are offended at the drop of a hat. These things were never acceptable. It was never OK. The difference now is that we have progressed as a society to a point where we have culturally and collectively decided we will no longer tolerate cultural appropriation.

I also have little patience for those throwing themselves a pity party because they can’t dress up as a Native American princess or geisha. I’d like to point out the sheer entitlement required to believe that you are somehow being deprived of something by not being able to dress in culturally appropriating costumes. 

In the past, some college students have even gone so far as holding funerals for costumes they’re no longer allowed to wear. The event is held by Young Americas Foundation chapters on several campuses and allows students to mourn the loss of their beloved costumes. This meek attempt to frame a push for social consciousness as an extremist movement is a stretch. Cultural awareness is not an epidemic of political correctness, it’s basic human decency.

Whether or not someone wears a costume with malicious intentions, wearing an offensive costume has implications of both indifference and ignorance toward people different from yourself. We should actively try to avoid wearing costumes that offend people and foster stereotypes and generalizations.

I want to walk through some costumes to avoid during this year’s Halloween season. Do not, under any circumstances, paint your face in an effort to mimic a skin tone that is different from yours. Do not mock cultural traditions, including Day of the Dead, Hawaiian grass skirts or anything resembling Native American dress. Essentially, let’s try to avoid mimicking any cultural manifestations or historic traditions this year.

If you haven’t noticed, the cultures that end up being the butt of Halloween jokes are the most marginalized ones. By further degrading these groups, we promote a culture in which we not only disrespect them but mock their very identity for our own pleasure. This is racism in its most basic form, and we shouldn’t stand for it any longer.

Cultural appropriation is not the manifestation of leftist internet rage, but rather the culmination of generations of cultures being dehumanized and parodied for years. These are the people who get to be angry, not those who have to put slightly more effort into creating a unique Halloween costume for this year’s party.

Those who oppose this shift toward socially and culturally conscious Halloween costumes are acting in primal entitlement. Your Halloween costume does not outweigh the need to respect other cultures and their traditions. To do otherwise is to oppress groups you do not understand and are not part of.