Last night, one of my friends tried her hardest to share, on her Facebook feed, how racist it is when people dress up as “Indians” on Halloween. She got a whole lot of blowback for it, but, for what it’s worth, I was knee-deep in her post, right there with her, trying to explain to her friends and family how racist it is to dress up as a minority for Halloween. She’s a white woman, but she’s married to a Native American man, and has a son by him who, I think, is a spitting image of his father.
She simply stated in her post that it’s just as racist to dress up as an “Indian” for Halloween as it is to dress in blackface. It’s an extremely uncomfortable place for a parent to be put in, as well, when they have to explain to their child why people are mocking his culture on Halloween. Not only is it uncomfortable for the parent, but the child learns at that moment that the world isn’t all sunshine and roses and people don’t respect people like him simply because of who he is and what blood flows through his veins.
This is wrong. I don’t care what excuse you try to come up with, it’s wrong. Don’t try to come at me with some bullshit about how “You don’t know me!” Yea, you’re right. I don’t know you; I do, however, know what you’re portraying. White privilege is an ugly beast. Last night, it was on full display in this poor girl’s comments. Her sister was literally at her throat and my throat because we called it what it was – racist. I tried my best to explain that white privilege exists and is the reason she thinks it’s perfectly acceptable to run around on Halloween dressed as someone’s culture. I tried to explain that it’d be no different from if she decided to grab Scotch tape and tape the corners of her eyes up so she could go trick-or-treating as an Asian girl.
See, the thing is, whether you acknowledge it or not, if you’re born white, you benefit from white privilege. What makes a difference is whether you acknowledge this white privilege and do your best not to offend others while working to change the skewed system, or whether you accept it and tell those who are hurt by it to stop crying about it. Our country was built on wiping out and oppressing Native Americans, and we need to face this horrible reality and do our best to stop it from continuing. But, so long as we think it’s cute or sexy to dress up as Pocahontas for Halloween, we are perpetuating this oppression and allowing the hurt and pain to continue.
So, if you thought it was a good idea to dress up as an “Indian” for Halloween, think again. Better yet, take that damn costume back to the store and get something that’s NOT racist!