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Stop wearing racist Halloween costumes

Photo Illustration: Genessa Gutzait · The Sentry

Halloween is on the horizon. For most of America, the holiday sparks the thrill of the scare. Ghosts, goblins, vampires, demons, werewolves, the list of spooky creatures could go on forever. But for a lot of other people, Halloween season brings to light another fear. Possibly the scariest thing of all:  Racism.

Racist Halloween costumes have been a source of controversy for years, but with the rise of social media, the argument has become more widespread. The idea of wearing someone else’s culture to get a cute Halloween Instagram picture is incomprehensible for people of color in America. So, in the spirit of keeping those Instagram feeds racism-free, here’s an 11-step how-to guide to not picking a racist costume this Halloween.

1. If a costume requires people to paint their face a color darker or lighter than what it is in an attempt to emulate a specific race, throw it away.

2. If a costume comes with a plastic sombrero or a tequila holster, throw it away. 

3. If a costume comes with chopsticks for someone’s hair, throw it away.

4. If a costume comes with a turban or any other fake religious head garment, throw it away.

5. If a costume comes with a feathered headdress, throw it away.

6. If a costume is supposed to be reminiscent of a person of color but has a white person modeling it, it’s best to just throw it away.

7. If a costume makes people want to use an accent, stop it. It’s annoying and probably offensive.

8. If a costume has the word “sexy” followed by an ethnicity or a cultural persona, like “Geisha” or “Eskimo,” don’t do it. Put it back on the shelf and go find a sexy crayon costume instead.

9. If the costume requires a cheap, plastic mask to be the same race as the person they are trying to emulate, stop. People can still emulate a person without needing a mask. 

10. A good rule of thumb is to look at the costume, really look at it and ask: Could this offend somebody? Is this fair to racial minorities to take their culture and wear it as a costume? Is this cheap, itchy, wrinkled, ill-fitting, $29.99, local pop-up Halloween store costume really worth it? 

11. Most importantly, if a person of color says that a certain costume is offensive to them, listen. 

In a time when pop culture is booming, there are so many characters people could be for Halloween, like an Avenger, a Star Wars character, a Stranger Things character, or even a Game of Thrones character. There are millions of other non-offensive things people could dress up as that will still look awesome. Do others a favor and don’t dress up in a way that may make them feel like the culture they have created through food, music, art, and any other cultural mediums is a joke.

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