In the memorable words from “Mean Girls”: “Halloween is the one night a year when girls can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it.” Apparently, the same holds true for costumes that mock, imitate and belittle certain racial groups. So, as we all get ready for the coming weekend’s parties, here’s my review of some of the most racist options being sold this year, along with some bad ideas that recur every Halloween. Share it with anybody you think might need the help.
Really, this is one is just crazy, but if you go in blackface then you enter official racist territory. “Run and tell THAT!”
On Sunday, Antoine Dodson informed his Facebook followers there was a minor setback with his $24.99 “Bed Intruder Hero Costume.” “Y’all aint going to believe this: The wig machine broke down and had to be repaired because of all the orders for my costume.” His costume has sold out twice and they’re scrambling to produce even more before Halloween–so we’ll undoubtedly see many iterations of Antoine out there…including in dog form.
The “Illegal Alien Adult Costume,” manufactured by Forum novelties, includes an orange jumpsuit, similar to prison garb, with “Illegal Alien” stamped in black across the chest; a space alien mask; and a fake Green Card. “The costume is a sick sign of the times we are living in in this country where those who are not ‘people like us’ might as well be from another planet and are considered less than human,” one customer wrote on Target’s website before the retailer removed the costume. The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles wrote a letter to retailers asking them to stop selling the costume, but a quick Google search reveals dozens of retailers, including Amazon.com and Buy.com, still selling the item.
Afro Wigs (or Anything with Other People’s Hair)
Kohl’s department store learned this lesson the hardway. Apparently someone in their marketing team equated “kinky” hair as ghetto fabulous. “Most often, the people I see wearing afro wigs–and dreadlock wigs, let’s not forget about those–are just looking to lampoon naturally textured black hair. And my hair isn’t a joke, a trend, a prop, or a costume. It’s real, it’s special, and it’s beautiful,” wrote beauty, hair and culture blogger extraordinaire Afrobella. And Kohl’s listened. The wig is no longer for sale on Kohl”s website.
“Rednecks” and “Hillbillies”
It works both ways, y’all. “Redneck” and “white trash” are racial slurs, actually, not to mention that they mock poor white southerners. It’s disrespectful. So just don’t.
This one’s a perennial racism favorite. With all the controversy surrounding immigration and state laws like Arizona’s SB1070, dressing up as a Mexican guy–complete with a sombrero, exaggerated mustache and a donkey is–is probably something we can expect to see lots of this year.
This perpetuates hate against Arabs and Muslims, obviously, and you really don’t want to freak out Juan Williams.
Anything in Black Face
Somehow, people still think this is okay. “In my opinion, Black Face is just as offending as hanging nooses around trees,” writes Dee Peachz on a black face forum on Facebook.
Blackface costumes take the prize for most racist pretty much every year. For the record: Blackface has a deeply rooted racist history in the United States. It extends back to minstrel shows in which white actors would paint their faces black and lips red or white to mock the physical appearance African Americans and perform grotesque “comedy” based on the idea that black people aren’t human beings.