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TOPIC: Culture Appropriation and Halloween

Culture Appropriation and Halloween 28 Oct 2015 17:00 #8268

  • emily.k
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I was recentIy on Facebook and I read an article about how a teacher was criticized for dressing up as Kanye West for a class Halloween party. First, I thought people were upset because maybe he taught at an elementary school and maybe Kanye West wasn't the most appropriate thing to dress up as. But as I read the article, someone was upset because he was white and painted himself brown for the costume. I thought that that was ridiculous, Kanye West is black, why is it wrong for someone to do that for a part of a costume? Some people say, "you wear it as a costume, but we have to live with it." which I can understand, but the teacher was in no way being rude or criticizing Kanye or his culture.

This made me think how sad it is that people can't even dress up for halloween anymore without feeling like they might offend someone. Yes, obviously it's bad if they are in a costume and are being rude and negative towards the culture/ person, but when they just dress up, I don't understand why people are getting so upset over a costume. It also made me think, however, that in our generation people have become very sensitive to anything dealing with race and sometimes even gender. If it's offensive, obviously it's wrong, but if it isn't offensive, I think people are getting mad over nothing.

I know everyone has their own opinion and thoughts, but this is what I think. Halloween is supposed to be fun and dress up like something that you're not. If you're not offending someone's culture or using it in a negative way, then it shouldn't be seen as being disrespectful. If a white guy wants to dress up as Kanye West for Halloween, then he should be able to without being criticized and accused of being racist.
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Culture Appropriation and Halloween 01 Nov 2015 01:30 #8288

  • justin.n
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Hi Emily,

I agree with your notion that society is too sensitive nowadays. I don't, however, agree that the teacher's costume is appropriate after he paints himself brown. Dressing similar to Kanye and acting like him is okay, but I understand why it does become offensive once blackface has been committed. Adding makeup to change the color of your skin to reference a certain culture is disrespectful because it sees whomever as a parody that can be worn for your own enjoyment. I am not African-American myself but I can see what they mean when they say the "you wear it as a costume, but we have to live with it" quote you mentioned. A Caucasian may think it's harmless in pretending to be an African-American for a day by painting themselves brown or black, but their is a lifetime of neglect African-Americans have, and will experience in their lifetime because of that skin color. Everyone should be allowed to enjoy Halloween by dressing up as silly as they'd like, but some thoughtful consideration should be given when putting together a costume idea.
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Culture Appropriation and Halloween 01 Nov 2015 16:11 #8304

  • jael.g
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Emily, a lot of what you mentioned in your post I do not agree with, however, I did take the time to try to understand where your opinion comes from and why you think this way.

I don't believe that people are "easily offended" nowadays, I simply believe that people now feel more comfortable to express their feelings over offensive acts that have always been forced to accept, acts that have been popularized by mainstream culture. (Let's keep in mind who and what controls the mainstream culture: dominant groups, aka, whites, wealthy people, males, etc.) Personally, I'm happy to avoid saying or doing certain things if it means it'll spare someone's feelings, and I don't see why my desire to do something should be considered more important than the feelings of an entire ethnic or social group.

As far as what you said regarding the black-face costume... well, I think it's safe to say that if African Americans are offended by it, it's offensive. The thing about costumes is, usually the character someone dresses up as is an exaggeration of the original, and by being an exaggeration, the person essentially becomes a mock-version of that character. Sure this is okay when the character is fictional, an animal, or is virtually anyone who cannot take offense from this, but when the character is a member of an oppressed group which is often mocked for the color of their skin every day, that's when a costume crosses the line. We have to take into account several factors before deciding that people are simply being too "sensitive", and claiming it's "just a costume" is a sorry excuse to mock a real person or a real social group.

And even if people were being "too sensitive" how hard is it for someone to just find a non-offensive costume? Cave-woman? Superhero? Animal? A trendy person from the 20s, 50s, 70s, etc.? Cartoon/movie characters? Aren't these all fun and non-offensive costumes? I'm sure everyone can be creative enough to find an awesome costume that will keep everyone happy.
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Culture Appropriation and Halloween 06 Dec 2015 07:15 #8754

  • kevin.h
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The story behind the Kanye Western thing is absurd because it was based on one person's allegation of seeing a person wearing black face despite the pictures of the party not having anyone in blackface. My brother attended UCLA and was interested in the story and told me his observation that the arguments about the Kanye Western party began changing once details began to emerge. Once people found out that there was no evidence of blackface, the outraged vocal minority began pointing out miner costumes at the Kanye Western party (which is a play on Kanye's hit single, Gold Digger) had coal on their faces which is similar to black face. They did the same as well to people who drew around their mouths to copy Kanye's facial hair. Eventually, the sentiment of the people against the party slowly changed to become "that party encouraged black stereotypes because one or two people dressed like rappers instead dressing like Kanye". So it was obvious how goal posts were moved around due to new evidence.

And that "controversy" bothered me because: when did Kanye become symbolic of black community when he does things that would upset said community? Why were people anxious to assume people are guilty before innocent? Why were people willing to make strong accusations based on weak evidence? Why couldn't those people see that it was a party poking fun at celebrity culture(there were more people dressed as Kim Kardashian and Taylor Swift who obviously aren't black)? Kanye even seems like the type of person who doesn't care heavily about stereotypes considering he uses the N-word tons of time and openly wears and sells merchandise with the confederate flag as shown below.

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