Saturday, October 31, 2009

Same Old Sh_t, different pendejos

Top 10 Reasons Not To Wear A Culturally Appropriating Halloween Costume
(with thanks to Freddie Fagula, a Facebook friend, for the initial text)

10. That shit is tired and you’re more creative than that. You can be anything.

9. You don’t wanna be “that guy/that girl” at the party.

8. You won’t be endorsing a history of domination, colonization, and genocide through your flippant, cartoonish, or stereotypical portrayal of cultures other than your own.

7. People of color won’t have their night ruined by your costume.

6. No one else will have their night ruined by your costume.

5. People who you’ve never met won’t take one look at you and decide to avoid the ignorant person who would wear THAT.

4. Your odds of getting laid will be dramatically increased because you won’t have offended half of the people at the party.

3. You aren’t an unfeeling jerk who likes to insult and hurt people.

2. You won’t be asked to leave the party because you are a white person dressed in black face or as a “native,” a Nazi*, Mexican, Indian, gypsy, geisha, Orthodox Jew, Arab terrorist, sheik, or hula dancer, etc.

1. You are an awesome, deep, conscientious individual who understands the importance of respecting the life, experiences, culture and ethnicity of people different from yourself.

*Yeah, I know it’s not technically “appropriating” but please, not okay.

Here is how wikipedia defines cultural appropriation: Cultural Appropriation is the adoption of some specific elements of one culture by a different cultural group. It denotes acculturation or assimilation, but often connotes a negative view towards acculturation from a minority culture by a dominant culture. It can include the introduction of forms of dress or personal adornment, music and art, religion, language, or social behavior. These elements, once removed from their indigenous cultural contexts, may take on meanings that are significantly divergent from, or merely less nuanced than, those they originally held.

Obviously, there are many ways to create an offensive costume that may not be pointed out above or fall into the cultural appropriating category. If you’re wondering whether your costume will offend someone than it probably will. If you’re still thinking about wearing it, ask your more thoughtful friends to weigh in on it. I realize this is a multi-faceted topic deserving more attention than once a year on Halloween, but this is as good a time as any to bring it up.

I believe it’s healthy for people to want to transform themselves, and Halloween encourages that. It gives people a sense of possibility. It’s a creative outlet in a culture of full rules about who can make legitimate “art.” It’s the extra nudge one may need to let go and be someone else. Even if it’s just for a laugh. It’s an opportunity that I wouldn’t want to deny anyone. What I do want is a Halloween where one persons liberating costume is not another persons insult to their life, experiences, culture, or race.

Please give it some thought and don’t be “that pinche pendejo/a” on Halloween.


Lisa Alvarado


msedano said...

hey, lisa! great seeing your stuff back in la bloga! happy hallowe'ddlm'en

Daniel A. Olivas said...

Great post, sick costumes. Thanks for dropping by and sharing your insights with us, Lisa!

Viva Liz Vega! said...

Thanks Lisa. Even though I would never wear that alien sleezetag costume I did have my daughter ready to go out trick or treating dressed as a geisha. After reading your post I decided not to spray her hair black and decided against the fan. In my defense she picked her costume and is only 7. My older daughter, is 8 and went as a Flamenco dancer.