Super Scary, Stereotypical Costumes

Halloween is arguably one of the most fun holidays. You can dress up like a banana, a zombie cheerleader, or even a cat. However, a certain kind of costume that is not acceptable, comes around every year. Those costumes fall into a small category: when people adopt the aspects and features of another race or culture as a costume, a joke. Some examples of this are blackface and yellowface where people will literally paint a color onto their skin to make them look like a different race. Halloween is not the proper place to display your racial microaggressions. You may not even be aware of them, most people aren’t. Microaggressions are when you say a racial slur or dress up as another race to make fun of them. Actions like these showcase how unaware our society is to the amount of cultural appropriation we experience on a daily basis. Some may take this as it not being okay to dress up as their favorite movie character of a different race, but that is not the case. Little kids can dress up as Mulan, Pocahontas, and Tiana, because they are doing it out of admiration, not disrespect. It is hard to identify when a costume goes from okay to bad. If you think someone will be offended by your costume then odds are it isn’t appropriate.

STARS Poster Campagian 2012
Photo Credit: http://www.ohio.edu/orgs.stars/Poster_Campaign.html

In 2012, a group of students at Ohio State University, known as STARS (Students Teaching About Racism in Society), made a series of posters to showcase this problematic Halloween trend. It is a series of six posters each picturing an offensive costume representing a racial stereotype, an actual person representing that racial group, and the same line: “You wear the costume for one night, I wear the stigma for life.”

And this is so true. Coming from a place of privilege, I don’t understand the type of oppression people of color receive on a daily basis; neither do any of the people who dress up as stereotypes of a culture. If you dress up as a racial stereotype, then you most likely don’t know anything about that particular culture’s daily oppression. People who don blackface or dress up as a nerdy Asian never have to live in the skin of people of color. They don’t have to wake up knowing they’ll be judged for the amount of pigment in their skin. Most people dress up as stereotypical racial figures to make fun, not knowing anything about what it’s actually like to be who they’re dressed up as. On November 1st, you can wake up in your safety bubble of skin and go on with life, but the group of people you made fun of the night before will continue to wear the skin and/or identity that you appropriated as a costume.

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LA Devotee

Are you an LA Devotee? I am and have been one for a while. My dad is convinced that “Californication” was written about me.

For the very few that don’t know what that is, “Californication” is Red Hot Chili Pepper’s best song and an absolute must-listen. The song metaphorically refers to the California lifestyle that Hollywood is trying to sell, it shows us that lifestyle through films, tv, social media, and magazines. Making people believe that if you come to California you can throw your life away in exchange for endless partying.

The song also reveals that the California that people think of as glamorous and perfect is really just made up and fake. The music video expands on this idea. At the beginning, all the scenes look great until all that scenery just collapses. The band members are constantly running in the video and perhaps thats their way of saying that they want to break away from this life.

However, I don’t agree with that. My experience in California has been very different.

Yes, I do see plastic surgery addicts from time to time. I also see women in full makeup at 9 am carrying dogs under their armpits just to go to a coffee shop, as well as beautiful sports cars just stuck in LA traffic, never having an opportunity to reach their full speed as they’re supposed to. Yet, those people don’t make up LA for me.

I would argue and say that Los Angeles is the only big city where I can put on a white tee and some jeans and be able to go to a trendy restaurant. People don’t feel the need to show off their wealth unlike in cities such as London or Paris. I really feel like a part of this city. It has really grown on me. Or is it just Californication?

 

Californication spotify

Californication music video 

Photo Credit: LA Weekly