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Cultural appropriation remains an imminent issue during Halloween

culture appropriation (Perspectives) Estelle Zhou

 Tricks and treats are not the only thing that showed up this Halloween.

 Despite its seemingly harmless appearance, Halloween has brought forth an immense problem of racism that has yet to dissipate. Costume wearers do not notice how attributes of the festivities have received influence from racism stereotypes and biases as they ignorantly depreciate cultures.  

 To begin, Halloween shares Oct. 31 with the Hispanic holiday, the Day of the Dead, traditionally known as Día de los Muertos.

 The Day of the Dead is a three-day long celebration that pays tribute to the memory of lost loved ones. During the festivities, individuals paint their faces as skeletons and wear traditional Hispanic clothing as part of their remembrance.

 Unfortunately, through horribly inaccurate dramatization from Hollywood and celebrities, adolescents have attempted to replicate the Day of the Dead culture with makeup and traditional clothing as a Halloween costume.

 Consequently, those that take pride in honoring deceased loved ones on Halloween hold a resentment for those who disrespect their culture. To elaborate, those of the Hispanic ethnicity take great offense to this inaccurate representation as the dressing up is actually disrespecting the true religious and symbolic meaning of the Day of the Dead. Similar to Day of the Dead, many other holidays are also disrespected during Halloween.

 For example, Native Americans often find their accessories taken for items of costumes, rather than their significant meanings. Wearers are often unaware of how greatly they disrespect Native American culture by allowing racist traditions to be acceptable.

 Further, Halloween has also become the host to a century long disgrace: blackface. Beginning in 1830, blackface was created by Caucasians to make a satire of African Americans in theatrical productions. Actors were painted with large exaggerated lips and “blackened” skin from burnt cork and shoe polish, which incorporated racial stereotypes by making lighter complexions look “black” and satisfy an “accurate representation.”

 As of now, the blackface epidemic can be seen in celebrities, who strive for originality during Halloween. Dancer Julianne Hough demonstrated blackface on Halloween by painting her face black to become “Crazy Eyes” from Orange is the New Black, drawing backlash from the media and angry fans.  

 Regardless of apologizing to actress Uzo Aduba the damage is irreversible, marking one of the many times cultural appropriation has been misunderstood. These acts negatively reflect on society as they send a message that makes racism and morphisms of culture acceptable.

 In addition, Halloween has also allowed the political climate to fuel racism. Given the current political standings, individuals have found leeway through Halloween to mock and criticize others, increasing tensions between races. Several celebrities have been seen “jokingly” wearing offense and racially biased costumes during Halloween, especially in this imminently unstable political climate.

 Consequently, ignorant Halloween costume manufacturers and wearers continue to promote a bad message for future generations. Adolescents will be influenced by these seemingly harmless, but offensive practices and continue them, regardless of their intention to do so.

 Ultimately, society’s ignorance to the depreciation of ethnic cultures will lead to serious consequences if inappropriate traditions continue every Halloween.  


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