“When Miley Cyrus is being less racist than you, it’s time to look at your life and look at your decisions.”
You can do better than a costume based on a racist stereotype – and here’s Kat Blaque with a great explanation of why it’s so important that you do. In this video, she lists some of the most popular problematic costumes and shares exactly why they’re so harmful.
This is all the info you need to think about your impact and find a more respectful way to have fun this Halloween.
The Editors at Everyday Feminism
Click for the Transcript
Hey guys, it’s Kat. And before I get into this video, I want to tell you guys about my store. I’ve got tote bags, t-shirts, mugs, and so much more. I worked really hard to put this stuff together for you guys, so don’t forget to check it out. I’m always updating, and there’s always going to be new things. And if you get anything from my store take a selfie! I’d love to see you with my stuff!
Anyway, let’s get on to this video. Hit it.
(Kat speaking into a plastic skull like a telephone) “Alfredo, it’s a little too early to be making a video about Halloween, don’t you think?” (The skull mumbles some unintelligible words) Wait, wait, wait, what? Racist costumes??”
I was planning on making this video a little bit later on in October, more closer towards Halloween, but I’ve already heard a lot of people are planning their Halloween costumes right now. And I wanted to stop you before you made a fool out of yourself.
Every year, around this time, we have a bunch of people who want to feel a little bit ethnic for the evening, and they think that Halloween is the perfect time to do that. You can be a spicy señorita, a Chinaman, an Indian princess, or a brave African warrior – or you could not be an insensitive jerk and realize that cultures are not costumes.
Look, I get that the point of Halloween is to dress up as something that you’re not and to role play all night. Trust me, I get it, and I know that it’s all in good fun. When your costume is parodying or poking fun at a culture that is not your own, I’m sorry, but you’re kind of a jerk, and you’re definitely not invited to my Halloween party.
I am the sort of person who likes to believe the best of people. I would love to believe that the people that are wearing these costumes aren’t racist and that they just don’t know any better. So I wanted to make a video where I’m going down a list of problematic costumes and tell you why’re problematic.
While dressing as a sensitive geisha may be really fun to you, Asian women have to live with the geisha stereotype that says that they’re submissive, subservient, and silent. While wearing an Indian headdress may make your Native American-themed costume seem more extravagant, you’re ignoring the fact that Native Americans consider the headdress to be a sign of achievement that is cherished in many Native communities, and wearing the headdress as a costume is spitting in the face of those that have earned the right to wear the headdress. It’s hella disrespectful.
Dressing up as an Arabian terrorist might be a hit with all of your racist friends, but people of Middle Eastern descent have to live with everybody assuming that they’re terrorists because of their racial background or how they choose to practice their religion.
One of the main reasons why I’m making this video is because of the response that people had to my blackface video. A lot of people were asking me if it’s okay to darken up your skin when you’re playing a black character or a character with a darker complexion.
Now, first and foremost, I wanted to say this: I have no idea why when you look at a black character, the biggest thing you take away from them is their skin color. I’m sorry, but if you can’t play a black character without darkening your skin tone, then your costume is really bad, and you probably shouldn’t be doing it altogether.
Being honest with you guys, I feel like there are some people that when Halloween comes around, they just get really excited because it’s the time where they think that they can paint their skin black, and act like a black stereotype. And “Oh, no, no, no, I’m not trying to be a jerk, it’s Halloween, you know it’s funny!” Whenever I talk to people about this, they always say to me that, “Oh no, I was darkening my skin so I could be more accurate to the character.” I think that it’s just one big massive excuse.
Blackface has a long history of pain and hurt behind it. Actually, most of these stereotypes. I was Velma for Halloween last year, everybody knew who I was, because my look and my outfit were on point. No, you don’t need to darken your skin to play a black character.
Lightening my skin never once came to my mind, because Velma is so much more than just a nerdy white girl. When the biggest thing you take away from the character is their race, that’s probably a costume that you should avoid. You wear the costume, not the race.
Look at these great cosplayers. You know exactly who they’re supposed to be, even though they’re not the original race of the character. Their costumes are amazing, and you know exactly who they’re supposed to be.
Look at problematic-as-hell Miley Cyrus doing it right with her Little Kim costume. You know exactly what that’s supposed to be, and you didn’t need to darken up your skin to make the point. When Miley Cyrus is being less racist than you, it’s time to look at your life and look at your decisions.
Look at Ellen who flawlessly dressed as Nicki Minaj one year, and this absolutely adorable Princess Tiana cosplay from The Princess and the Frog. One of my favorite Marvel characters is Storm, and this girl did an amazing job. Again, you know who these characters are, and you don’t need blackface to communicate it.
A lot of Halloween costumes are manifestations of really harmful, racist stereotypes, and I can understand now how in this part in society, the context for a lot of these stereotypes is lost. But these stereotypes do still very much affect people of color. It’s probably a good idea to be conscious of that.
When you’re going Halloween shopping, if your costume says “tribe” or “ethnic” or “traditional” or “authentic” on it, then the chances are you’re about to grab a really problematic costume, and again, if you wear it, you’re not invited to my party.
If you’re ashamed to be seen by a person of the race of the costume that you’re wearing, then that’s probably not something that you should be wearing.
At the end of the day, Halloween is all about fun, and there are plenty of costumes that you can wear that aren’t offensive to certain cultures, and don’t require you to try on a culture for an evening just for fun.
If you’re having fun at somebody else’s expense, then I’m sorry, you’re kind of a jerk, and you should examine why you feel so entitled to wear costumes that you know are offensive to the people that you’re parodying. Like I said, I like to err on the side of people just not knowing any better, so I really hope that this video stops you from buying a racist Halloween costume.
On that note, please share this video to all of your really problematic friends, and make sure that they don’t wear a racist costume. Like, stop your friends. If they’re wearing something that’s racist, stop them. I really don’t want to see articles from this year about racist costumes. I mean, it’s 2014. We should be over this by now.
So ghouls and girls, have a good time this Halloween. And always remember, and never forget, that you are beautiful, and you are loved. Bye.
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Kat Blaque is a Contributing Vlogger for Everyday Feminism. She’s also a children’s illustrator and thrift store shopper. Check out Kat’s website and YouTube channel, and follow Kat on Twitter @. Watch her videos here!