Multi-American | How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

On Halloween and ethnicity, commodified

Par-tay! Ethnic drag on Halloween, October 2007
Par-tay! Ethnic drag on Halloween, October 2007
Photo by Dana Robinson/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Halloween is nearly upon us, which means it must be time to, er, don an afro wig, a sombrero and fake mustache, or a Kim Jong Il costume? Nah, not so much.

Blogger Anna John of WAMU 88.5's DCentric in Washington, D.C, one of Multi-American's sister websites on the NPR Argo Network, had this to say about "ethnic" costumes in a post yesterday:

I save the side-eye for those special outfits which turn cultures in to costumes; while some people think it’s “fun” to be “Ghetto Fab“, “Seductive Squaw” or “Asian Doll“, I have to restrain myself from reminding these insensitive boors that some of us can’t take off our skin.

My point is, ethnicity isn’t something to be ordered online for $52.95 and then worn to a succession of bars, where other revelers spill drinks on your micro-kimono or faux-feathers. Some of us are born with a certain phenotype and this affects how we are viewed and treated, every moment of every day. We don’t have the luxury of selecting our culture from a catalog and then discarding it, conveniently, after a holiday.

This goes out to you, Mr. Fake Mustache Sombrero Wearer.

ColorLines and Angry Asian Man also had a few things to say about culturally offensive costumes.