As I ripped open the package that contained my Halloween costume, I was excited. Yes, I did wait till the day of the party and got a cheap costume for $14, but it was either that or buy a shirt with a pumpkin on it. As I was putting glitter and red lipstick on, I wondered what the costume situation would be like this year. I wondered if there would be more ignorance surrounding Halloween this year than the last.
As I was adding the final touches to my costume, I got a Twitter notification from none other than Kaitlin Bennet, also known as the “Kent State Gun Girl.” Claiming her title as a conservative journalist, Bennet tweeted out a photo with the caption, “Happy Halloween, my fellow indigenous people!” with two photos attached of her dressed up in a brown fringe dress with fake feathers in her hair. Along with the fake feathers was a fake dreamcatcher necklace and other beadings. She finished off her look with mock painting designs on her face to mimic part of a Native culture.
I was not surprised, but I was still angry. I expected her to do something like this and seeing it on my feed intensified my frustration. At this point, I knew she posted this for attention to feed into her judgemental rhetoric that surrounds her posts. I decided to forget about it in that moment, but a little part of me was antsy thinking about how many people dressed up as somebody’s culture, religion, or ethnicity for Halloween.
I still don’t understand the process of dressing up as somebody’s race. What actually goes through someone’s head to make them want to put black paint all over their body to mimic a black person. I am sure they do not even think about the hurt it causes our younger generations. It is worse to think that they do think about hurting others with their costume choice and they still go along with it.
Luckily, I made it through the weekend full of Halloween parties without seeing somebody disrespect a whole race. I was happy and then sad because it is unfortunate that I have to watch out for these costumes every year. I tried my best to stay away from social media because I knew I would see a costume that would make me recoil in disgust. I saw something much worse.
Actress Debra Messing on hit television series Will & Grace posted a disturbing photo of a father’s kids dressed up as President Trump, Hillary Clinton, and previous President Barack Obama in blackface. The youngest child sports a MAGA hat while he pulls his older siblings connected by a chain around their wrists. The older siblings are frowning at the camera while the child dressed as Trump is pictured smiling.
I felt sick to my stomach. It is worse to see the ignorance being transferred to the children without them knowing any better. They are just following their parent’s commands and teachings. They will grow up thinking that putting brown or black paint all over your body to depict your previous president is something to live by, something to teach their own kids when the time comes.
When will this obsession with painting your face to look like an ethnicity stop? There are many costumes you can make work for you without appropriating someone else. There is a costume out there that is not ignorant. Before you dress up as sexy Pocahontas, think twice about it. Research her real story. It is far from the fairytale Disney paints it out to be. Her real name is Matoaka. Know her history and the sexual assault and kidnapping she endured.
Matoaka, along with the other Native women people are trying to dress up as, deserve more respect than the ripped fringe dresses and knee-high tights people wear to represent them. We are not a caricature for your entertainment. We are real people with a real and alive culture. Don't try to ruin it with your fake costumes.