But Is It Really Racist?

by Robin on October 26, 2014 - 9:53pm

But Is It Really Racist?

The article A Halloween Risk: Racism in Disguise written by Bee Shapiro in the New York Times from October 30th 2013 explores the idea that certain Halloween costumes can be considered racist or offence. The article uses the example of Juilanne Hough who went to a Halloween party dressed as Crazy Eyes, a character from the hit show Orange is The New Black. Juilanne smeared dark make up over her face to portray the actress Uzo Aduba. The author compared Juilanne to another Hollywood known couple dressed up as George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin, one wearing a Neighborhood watch shirt and the other had a blackface with a grey hoodie and smeared fake blood all over his face. The author discusses that in the case of Julianne it was an honest mistake as she claimed to only wear the black make up to remain faithful to the character. However in the case of George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin it was a simple racist act, they dressed up knowing the racist meanings behind the costume. Shapiro puts forth an idea by W. Kamau Bell that there are different levels of racism. They guys who portrayed Trayvon where insensible and downright racist. They knew the meaning and history behind their costume and still decided to go ahead with it anyways. As for Ms. Hough though she had just made an honest mistake, but the real question that still remains is whether or not Julianne’s costume was in fact racist.

I believe that many people when it comes to picking out a Halloween costume do not think about the origin or meanings behind them. Is it in fact racist to dress up as a character from a movie and paint your face darker or lighter to match theirs? Is it racist to dress up as an Indian princess and wear a traditional outfit? Or even to dress up as a Gypsie? The answer is different depending on who it is you ask. Although growing up as a kid I never really thought about the idea of a Halloween costume being racist or offensive in anyways. I have now come to realize the deeper implications and meanings that they have. By wearing certain Halloween costumes like the traditional Indian princess we are enforcing stereotypes about their culture. Certain Halloween costumes are based on stereotypes or mocking someone’s culture and that is what makes it racist. If the costume is able to offend someone and hurt them it is racist. So when it comes to the case of Julianne Hough’s costume I believe to some extent, racism may not have been intended but there was in fact and element of racism because her costume offended and hurt many people.

Shapiro, B. (2013, October 30). A Halloween Risk: Racism in Disguise. The New York Times. Retrived from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/31/fashion/a-halloween-risk-racism-in-dis...