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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 30, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 44
Don't offend this Halloween: Dress for Halloween success, not cultural reappropriation/racism
Section One
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Don't offend this Halloween: Dress for Halloween success, not cultural reappropriation/racism

by Shaun Knittel
SGN Associate Editor

This weekend is Halloween; a time in which families come together and paint their children into gobblins, ghouls and characters from the latest movie or television show that's all the rage with the youth. It's also a time when moronic adults forget tact and show up dressed as non-American Indians dressed as Native Chiefs.

While Seattle Gay News is not in the business of telling people how to live, we do however, want to offer some sage advice for anyone looking to enter a costume contest at one of the many bars and nightclubs around town this weekend, Gay frat bro or sorority Lesbian looking to dazzle at the university Halloween party, or any ol' LGBTQ person going tricking or treating this holiday.

o Stay away from blackface: Just don't do it. Although it shouldn't have to be explained at this point why it is deeply offensive, there is always someone who, like clockwork, will show up to a party thinking they have really hit the nail on the head with such a costume. So here it goes again: Blackface is offensive because it represents a time when white Americans would put dark paint on their faces and act out incredibly racist and offensive stereotypes about African Americans. The symbolism of blackface is incendiary, insensitive and racist. This is a fact. So don't do it.

o Avoid any costume inspired by real-life tragic events: A Boston Marathon bomb victim, a mass shooting victim or any of the shooters or an unarmed black teen murdered by a police officer or George Zimmerman to name a few, are all great examples of Halloween costumes you want to stay far, far away from. Other examples would be an Ebola virus victim or ISIS soldiers and suicide bombers. If your goal is to make people laugh this Halloween then go as a clown - because nothing about any of what SGN just listed is funny or appropriate to draw laughter from.

o Not your race, not a costume: This one can be tricky and we know that some readers might disagree so here it goes& Our best efforts at explaining this so-called touchy subject without offending the masses. Cowboys come in all colors. So do police officers, fire fighters, soldiers, doctors, clowns, ghosts, etc. American Indians, Arabian Sheiks, Mexicans and Mexican-Americans, and others that follow the same ethnic, racial and cultural lines do not come in any other form than what they are. So if you are not Mexican, don't wear a sombrero and a serape and call yourself one (because just by wearing such garb does not make you any more or less 'Mexican' than you already are/are not).



America's biggest retailer, Wal-Mart, has removed some of the costumes available via its website after complaints that images of Arabs and Hispanics were offensive. The company's 'Sheik Fagan' costume included a headdress and fake large, hooked nose. The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee had called on the retailer to remove the costume from its site.

'Walmart's webpage for the item suggests that the nose is 'perfect for an Arab Sheik,' perpetuating racist tropes that have long been used to demonize, otherize and alienate Arab communities throughout history,' the group said in a statement.

The company has also removed a child's costume titled 'Little Amigo.' Available for $12.99 the outfit includes a fringed serape with sombrero and was modeled by a young child sporting a big black mustache.



o Caitlyn Jenner Halloween costumes: Yes, we are LGBTQ and yes, we should be able to take power in whatever form we want to when it comes to our movement. But dressing up to poke fun at an actual Transgender person (Chaz Bono, Caitlyn Jenner, etc.) is just plain offensive and let's face it - has nothing to do with power recovered and everything to do with bullying.

Gay men have, for years, dressed in drag for Halloween. NOT THE SAME THING. Drag is either celebrity female impersonation (not the same as bullying) or a character in which a person in drag develops and lives out while masquerading in the clothing and look or 'drag' of said character they have created. And while some of these names or characters might include real life people, places or things they certainly are not meant for any one group or person in particular.

The point of Halloween can and will be creative and be retold over the years. Some see it as the best holiday of the year or certainly the one that is most fun for kids, and in the last few decades, fun for adults, too. But everyone can agree that Halloween is not - or should not - be about racism, cultural reappropriation, and bullying.

Have fun SGN readers!

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