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TOPIC: Culture costumes aren't always racist

Culture costumes aren't always racist 08 Nov 2015 18:04 #8399

  • Robert.M
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There have been stories in the media lately about racist Halloween costumes. Some include black face, sexy Indian, and geishas. Costumes that mock cultures and races have always been around, but as society becomes more culturally sensitive and knowledgeable, less and less is being tolerated.

I’ve done some research on the subject and I’ve come to the consensus that journalist, more than the cultures being represented, are sensitive to the subject. In fact, I found that when people dress as another culture, it can open conversations with people who are of the culture (as long as the costume isn’t disrespectful). I read a story about a makeup artist who was dressed as a geisha. She studied the culture and put a lot of work into her costume. She said that her biggest response was from woman who were actually geishas congratulating her authenticity.

Disrespectful costumes come in the form of coloring skin tone and a mockery of racial profiling. If wearing a costume to be sexy isn’t sad enough, it shows ignorance and often leans on racial stereotypes to convey the costume. Dressing as a person with a different skin-tone can be appropriate if the person doesn’t “paint” their skin. I agree that coloring your skin for a costume is definitely racist but I don’t think that should stop anyone from being able to dress as someone who has a different skin tone or even a different gender. My friend, a white male, dressed as Whoopi Goldberg but he did not color his skin. He wore a wig with dreadlocks because that is Whoopi’s signature hair, round glasses, a big white shirt, ‘The View’ mug, and crocs to completed the outfit. It was authentic because he truly loves Whoopi Goldberg. I think Whoopi would have had a good laugh about it.

The real difference in offensive vs non-offensive cultural costumes lies in subtext, authenticity, respect, and knowledge. If you follow these criteria, it can help you achieve a culturally defined costume that could potentially start important, and possibly life changing, conversations.
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Culture costumes aren't always racist 08 Nov 2015 21:43 #8424

  • Aicha.C
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I completely agree with you on everything you said, there is a very thin line when it comes to sensitivity in the times we are living in. I always tell my friends that people in America think ahead without realizing where we really are. I think that the issue of costumes being racist and culture appropriation has to do with the fact that people have not healed from the past. It was not long ago that black people were considered second class citizens and some would argue that they still are. So when black people over react to things I understand exactly where they are coming from even though they may be over reacting. The wounds of the oppressed are still fresh and there is more being added to the pain with the inhumane killings of black people and the misrepresentations of Native Americans. Which is why there is going to be a distinction between costume reactions for Geisha's , Black face and Native American costumes. They all come from a distinct culture that have different stories in America and all over the world, therefore the reactions will differ and people might be more sensitive for one more than the other. Which leads me back to my statement that we are not where we think we are in America, we still have not moved past the major issues facing people in our societies therefore we must be patient and understanding when people react.
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