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Kids Halloween costumes and race


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Racism is a one way street -- it absolutely never "goes both ways" -- it only works one way: from people who have greater power to people who have lesser power.

 

On the one hand, Moana may be an exception because she is a character, not a race... but she has a race, so I can see the issue. I'm not sure if she is an exception or not.

 

However, in general, this is his you identify whether a costume is offensive in terms of racism or cultural appropreation.

 

1. Name the two people groups involved. One is the simple visual identification of the character, the other is the simple visual identification of the person who intends to dress as that character.

 

2. Ask if either group does now, or ever has, asserted superiority over the other group.

 

A: if there is no people-group relationship that can be ready my identified, it's all good

 

B: If the real person is in the group who has/is asserting superiority that person may not appropriate the cultural look that they were thinking about. To do so is mimicking a culture that they have already actually injured for amusement purposes. It adds insult to injury.

 

C: if the real person is in the 'weaker' position of a current or historic relationship with the people that they intend to dress up as, that is ok because they aren't taking advantage of a group that they have already wounded.

 

Therefore apparently white children must have greater sensitivity, but apparently white characters are open to children of all ethnicities.

Upon first reading, I thought this was satire. 😂 Really, though, all this over a Halloween costume. 😵
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When my oldest was 6 she was best friends with the little girl next door, whose family were Chinese immigrants. They decided together that they wanted to be Chinese princesses for Halloween, so I took

This is all so utterly ridiculous. Why don’t we just separate into our different ethnicities and not interact lest we somehow offend one another. No, actually, it’s just we white folks that have t

I agree!

 

But it looks like it would be all too easy for someone to end up feeling dissed instead of respected.   Sad.

 

I highly doubt it. The OP has thoughtfully considered how to do this respectfully, and the vast majority of people would recognize that—if they even paid any attention to the costume at all. That isn't a given even though for the purposes of this thread, it's assumed that all costumes are carefully, meticulously scrutinized and most people care about what costume a child is wearing for more than the 30 seconds it takes to answer the door and pass out treats.

Edited by Word Nerd
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The actual research shows that this isn't how it works. When you don't point this out, children come up with the idea that race is some scary taboo subject, and they figure out their own reasons why. Their reasons are not anything you want them thinking.

 

Well, I don't know about the research, but my kids have been taught that we all have the same color blood, but God has created us in a variety of beautiful skin tones and have diversified into many different cultures around the world.  My DDs have never been intimidated or scared by race; they don't really think about it at all.  To them, people are just that -- people.

 

Someone up thread has a little boy who wants to be Moana's(?) friend, but some on here say he can't.  I say that's baloney.  Let him be the "character" he wants to be, however, tell him that tattoos have special meaning to the one who wears them.  Tell him he can have fake tattoos, but they can't be the same ones.  Let him choose some "special" tattoos that mean something to him.  Problem solved.

 

We spend so much time discussing skin pigment and get so concerned about what's taboo and what's not that I can't keep up and, frankly, I think it promotes racism rather than the opposite. I think, at this day and age, we should be able to acknowledge one simple fact that renders the whole discussion mute: We're all human and belong to the only extant Homo species - Homo sapiens! One group; one race.

 

Flame away, but that's how I feel. Going to go cook dinner now and thank God that I no longer have to worry about costumes for my DDs. 

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On a somewhat unrelated note (because it isn't related to race, but gender), I find this entire problem odd considering many of the same in my circle who do frequently assert that white people shouldn't dress in costumes that depict people of other races, because of systemic racism... are the same people who openly encourage their boy children to dress as girl characters for halloween. Because there's no history at all of men being considered superior to, and holding power over, women? 

 

I mean, if it isn't okay for my daughter to dress as a black character because white people have historically held power over black people, then why isn't the same true for my son if he wants to dress as a princess with a wig, dress, etc.?

 

ETA: This is a sincere question -- not snark. I have legitimately scratched my head over this.

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On a somewhat unrelated note (because it isn't related to race, but gender), I find this entire problem odd considering many of the same in my circle who do frequently assert that white people shouldn't dress in costumes that depict people of other races, because of systemic racism... are the same people who openly encourage their boy children to dress as girl characters for halloween. Because there's no history at all of men being considered superior to, and holding power over, women?

 

I mean, if it isn't okay for my daughter to dress as a black character because white people have historically held power over black people, then why isn't the same true for my son if he wants to dress as a princess with a wig, dress, etc.?

 

ETA: This is a sincere question -- not snark. I have legitimately scratched my head over this.

I mentioned this earlier too. It is because nobody wants to even touch the rock and a hard place where appropriation and gender identify meet. It is similar to someone white growing up in a large ethnic community such as myself. At this point in our society I am so exhausted by the lightening fast changing of political correctness I can only tune it out, go with my heart and know I will probably offend someone at some point. I can live with that.

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Bluegoat, I think part of your discomfort is that Halloween is sometimes, for some kids, about dressing up as what they'd like to imitate - a princess, or a superhero, or an animal they really like, or whatever.  For others, it's about being scary - monster, zombie, etc.  For others, there is an element of comedy.  Zombie Ann Frank would be the comedy.

 

Zombie Ann Frank is a little gruesome, and just on the edge (for me) of aaahhh, this is kind of funny and I'm laughing but I think it's probably funny because it's slightly socially transgressive in a way.

 

Hard to describe the kind of humor I mean, so I'll give another example (unrelated, but same kind of humor).  when I was at teacher's college in New Zealand, I'd just arrived in the country a few days before the first formal social intake event at the university.  In New Zealand they have a native (nativish, anyway) population called the Maori - they're Polynesian, was my understanding.  So the first major social event is a formal one based on a Maori tradition - most government institutions sort of adopt a fair number of Maori traditions, it's very different than with Native Americans here in the US or with our other minority populations.  So we're at this formal Maori introduction welcome thing, although 98% of us are white of course, and we (the new students for this year) are standing in the back waiting to go into the thing, whatever it was.  We're talking about the event, and during the course of the conversation I mispronounced Maori - I said it, evidently, in a way that made it sound something like Moriori.  I knew nothing about anyone called Moriori, but it caused a lot of stifled, sort of somewhat uncomfortable laughter (but a lot of the laughter).  Turns out there's a sort of weird cultural thing going on where, A. The Maori were cannibals, but it's pretty socially taboo to mention this, especially for kids and young people; B. The Moriori were maybe a tribe of people who lived in NZ before the Maori (although the theory is discredited, it's still a popular idea at least among teacher's school students of age 20-23 in Canterbury, NZ), whom the Maori ate.

 

So referring, even obliquely and unintentionally as I did, to the Moriori, was to them kind of hilarious and embarrassing and transgressive.  But the thing it was transgressing (a taboo on talking about or referring to, in a joking or irreverent manner, the idea that the Maori ate people) was something people were not necessarily unhappy to see transgressed - I got a sense (and some concrete statements) that the taboo was not perceived as wholly worthwhile or necessary, to this generation of kids. 

 

So anyway, I think something similar goes on with Ann Frank.  She's venerated, revered, etc. - but it's been a while, and some people, especially I think younger people, don't really feel the need for the veneration, or even as much of the sorrow as we're expected to feel.  The horror of the Holocaust is pushed constantly in school, or was when I was a kid, and while I agree that it is horrible, at some point it becomes less immediate, and you rebel against the insistence on the holiness of the sadness of the Holocaust and the holiness of the sadness of Ann Frank with a sort of transgressive humor.

 

 

This is in contrast to other things that are not pushed as hard - say the extermination of intellectuals under Pol Pot, or people who were killed in the Rwandan genocide, or survivors of the nuclear bombs - none of those would be humorous to bring back as Halloween costumes, even in a transgressive humor sort of way.

 

Oh, yes, I totally think that is the kind of humour that a dead Ann Frank costume would have.  

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I mentioned this earlier too. It is because nobody wants to even touch the rock and a hard place where appropriation and gender identify meet. It is similar to someone white growing up in a large ethnic community such as myself. At this point in our society I am so exhausted by the lightening fast changing of political correctness I can only tune it out, go with my heart and know I will probably offend someone at some point. I can live with that.

 

I think we are seriously fooling ourselves though, if we think the kids don't notice these contradictions.

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I have not read the responses... so forgive me if I am off topic...

 

When my oldest daughter was in pre-school she had a wonderfully diverse class. One Native American girl, a few girls from India, a few African Americans, a few brunettes, a few blonds, and one red-head.  They played princess all the time. The Native American girl was always Sleeping Beauty, the Indian girl was Belle another was Peter Pan, at least one of the African American girls was Tinkerbell and another The Little Mermaid, the red-head was Tinkerbell, the brunette was Cinderella, and the blondes were Pochantas and Snow White. (this was before the more recent edition and diversity of the Disney Princesses). It was awesome. The girls did not care. I thought it was amazing that my daughter was in such a diverse class at 3, and I now know that she still has that attitude today - be who you want to be. 

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I think we are seriously fooling ourselves though, if we think the kids don't notice these contradictions.

I also think they “get it†better than adults think. Being kind to others isn’t as complicated or fraught with potential landmines as some seem to believe.

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I totally agree! But I'd really like some opinions on DD's particular costume for this year. Is it offensive for her to dress as Katherine Johnson?

I think it’s awesome for a young girl to want to honor a female heroine. Girl Power!

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I told my black husband about this thread. His response? “So, white kids can’t dress up as a minority character, but if I was a kid, I could dress up as a white character? No. No, no, no. White people taking things too far.â€

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I told my black husband about this thread. His response? “So, white kids can’t dress up as a minority character, but if I was a kid, I could dress up as a white character? No. No, no, no. White people taking things too far.â€

I don't think it is the white people taking things to far.....
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I told my black husband about this thread. His response? “So, white kids can’t dress up as a minority character, but if I was a kid, I could dress up as a white character? No. No, no, no. White people taking things too far.â€

This is almost verbatim what my friend's Jamaican husband said. Well, his exact words in his adorable accent was "white people are crazy" haha!

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I don't think it is the white people taking things to far.....

Really? Then who is taking it too far? Minorities aren’t saying, “your white kid can only dress like white characters.â€

Minorities are saying, “Don’t take my culture and make a mockery of it or drag my people through the mud.â€

White people are the ones who take that statement and turn it into, “a kid dressing like a Disney princess from another race/culture is bad and should be avoided at all costs.â€

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Really? Then who is taking it too far? Minorities aren’t saying, “your white kid can only dress like white characters.â€

Minorities are saying, “Don’t take my culture and make a mockery of it or drag my people through the mud.â€

White people are the ones who take that statement and turn it into, “a kid dressing like a Disney princess from another race/culture is bad and should be avoided at all costs.â€

I only know what I know about this subject from a few articles on the internet and this lovely thread, but I have assumed it was the minorities objecting to white kids dressing up as non-white characters/people. Now I'm confused.

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I only know what I know about this subject from a few articles on the internet and this lovely thread, but I have assumed it was the minorities objecting to white kids dressing up as non-white characters/people. Now I'm confused.

 

This is just the issue.

 

Who is "the minorities"?

 

People have all kinds of different views.  Including about pretty hot-button issues that we're told they are supposed to think a certain way about.  Some don't care or are more conservative.  And some might be very extreme and not representative.

 

I often wish articles and individuals would be careful to think about who they are representing, and with what kind of mandate, and pitch the message honestly in that regard.  And I wish when people saw someone claim to represent their view, they'd speak up if they didn't agree - not to be jerks, but just to make it clear when a position is not so universal.

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Racism is bigotry based on hatred, resentment, and broad negative stereotypes. If you want it to mean something else, you're going to have to find a different word or phrase.

 

I love the variety of people in the U.S. and the fact that we've been sharing and enjoying each others' foods, customs, and clothing styles, etc.

My mom was raised by the children of German-born immigrants. She never had spaghetti until our family moved into a neighborhood with an Italian-decent family. The only one I ever knew. The Italian-American mom taught my mom how to make meatballs and spaghetti sauce. I still use the recipes.

 

Are some of you trying to tell me tht if I make this spaghetti meal and take it to a potluck, and there are Italian-American people there, that they have the right to get on my case for "culturally appropriating" THEIR cultural food? Am I supposed to apoplogize for the "microaggression" of eating pizza? a burrito? rice and stirfry vegetables? curry chicken? Is everyone who is wearing pants/trousers and a button-down shirt culturally appropriating white culture? Does everyone have to "stay" in their own cultural clothes/costumes? Some people think so.

 

If you think that restrictions only apply to whites, and that minorities can do whatever they want, then you (no one in particular) have a racist/ bigot problem yourself, imho.

 

Children should be able to wear any costume they want to.

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There is a lot of space between the people who see cultural appropriation everywhere and the people who want to do whatever they please.

 

Imo, the kind and reasonable things are in that space. Thoughtful discussions about cultural appropriation don't include things that have been repeated in this thread. Yes, you'll find people who thinking enjoying food/dressing as a Disney character etc is CA but there are also flat earthers so I don't worry about some fringe voices.

 

Regarding Moana, I linked earlier to an article by a native Fijian who was *not* suggesting that non-Polynesian kids couldn't dress up as Moana. She was suggesting to learn about Moana's culture and also not to fake things that have significant meaning to a culture that isn't yours.

 

I think a NA headdress is an easier to accept example. Someone who is a part of NA culture would not wear a headdress in a frivolous way. People, not Native Americans, wearing headdresses to music festivals is wrong. It is disrespectful to a part of NA culture and taking something they were not invited to share. When you consider the idea of non-NA selling/profiting from headdress fashion you can imagine how this is not okay.

 

This is just my two cents.

And I'm very tired.

 

.

Edited by happi duck
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My 4 year old son desperately wants to be Maui from Moana. I decided it would be ok as long as we didn’t try to darken his skin. Well, then I read online about the tattoos and how that also is cultural appropriation. Ugh.

So I told 4 year old no. It’s just not worth it. It’s exhausting. I tried to explain it to him and I even got help from my oldest ds who is a senior anth major. He still doesn’t understand. He said, but I love him, I don’t hate his people...

Completely exhausting. He would have made the cutest little giant. Oh, well.

That's so sad. I don't think anyone would have felt dissed by a little kid emulating a character. What, would they think a four-year old who admires the character would somehow be a racist or a cultural appropriator for this?

 

Then Disney shouldn't make any movies with characters who are of any actual race or culture. Make all the princesses purple aliens from space--and bald, so that no white people get upset about some other race's hair style being appropriated.

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This is almost verbatim what my friend's Jamaican husband said. Well, his exact words in his adorable accent was "white people are crazy" haha!

 

:lol:   Have heard this on another board from other non-white people (men, to be precise).  I do want to submit that perhaps this is (also?) a male/female divide, though, because the men in my life are white, and also think the fuss is ridiculous.

Edited by CES2005
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I only know what I know about this subject from a few articles on the internet and this lovely thread, but I have assumed it was the minorities objecting to white kids dressing up as non-white characters/people. Now I'm confused.

 

No, it was Cosmo objecting to white kids dressing up as non-whites.  Or more accurately, Facebook people reacting to a Cosmo article on the subject.

 

FTR, I've already encouraged us to consider the demographics of Cosmo's staff and readership.  Plus...it's Cosmo.  wth?

Edited by CES2005
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Children should be able to wear any costume they want to.

 

If we're only talking about Disney Princess costumes, I agree with you. I think the only culture being appropriated there is...Disney.  ;)

 

However, I do think we need to teach our children to be kind. If my child wanted to wear a Nazi costume, or a murder victim costume, or blackface, or a culturally significant Native American headdress, I would have to say, no, you cannot wear that. It isn't kind. 

 

Not talking specifically about you, Fifiruth, but an awful lot of people seem to be hell bent on insisting on THEIR rights--even when it is something as insignificant as the choice of a Halloween costume. God forbid someone might need to give up something to be kind to someone else. 

 

"All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify. Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor."

Edited by MercyA
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:lol:   Have heard this on another board from other non-white people (men, to be precise).  I do want to submit that perhaps this is (also?) a male/female divide, though, because the men in my life are white, and also think the fuss is ridiculous.

 

You know, you may be on to something.

 

If I think about people I know who get excited about this stuff, and examples of those I know who very much take the other view, it is pretty much along male/female lines.

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If a non white girl wanted to dress up as Cinderella, I would not call it racist. We are not assigned our princesses by race. The mere fact that a child would want to dress up as someone not their own race shows that the child is not concerned with race, which is a good thing. If people want to break the race barriers, they need to stop telling kids they can only play pretend of their own race. My daughter has dolls of all races. And she loves Tiana and has a tiana costume. And this is OK.

I agree. Wouldn't racist be a little white girl not wanting to be Moana because she isn't white. OMG our culture is so stupid sometimes.

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I think that it's beautiful that a child loves a character and doesn't care about the race of the character at all, and just wants to BE that character for a night of fun running around and getting a ton of candy.

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You know, you may be on to something.

 

If I think about people I know who get excited about this stuff, and examples of those I know who very much take the other view, it is pretty much along male/female lines.

There are a lot of women who think that the fuss is ridiculous. The divide is more between common sense vs political correctness.

Edited by Fifiruth
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Well, two of my kids are going as murder victims and the other as a murderer, so I guess we've crossed that line.

 

Okay, you've piqued my curiosity. :D Are they going as general or specific murderers and victims?

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There are a lot of women who think that the fuss is ridiculous. The divide is more between common sense vs political correctness.

 

To be fair, I brought that up first.  And I agree with you; it's just in my experience, those things fall along male/female lines most of the time.  Not all of the time, obviously.  I've said what I've said and I'm female.  

Edited by CES2005
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Okay, you've piqued my curiosity. :D Are they going as general or specific murderers and victims?

 

Well, general I guess.

 

Dd12 is going as a dead bride with a skull face.  Dd9 is a dead kid in a party dress.

 

Ds7 is a chainsaw, though he is wearing a hockey mask so maybe people will think he is from those horror movies - ds is not aware of them.

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One of my youngest's classmates was wearing a Merida costume including a red wig. I guess I should have called her out for "appropriating my cultural heritage" as the little girl is Latina rather than Scottish like my mom's family :001_rolleyes:

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