The Grinch Who Stole Halloween

Halloween falls on a Monday this year, so we can safely assume that most of the parties and masquerade will take place over the weekend. Some folks love Halloween, while others prefer to “stay in the house.” I guess I can sympathize with those “undecided” American voters, because when it comes to Halloween, I can’t really make a choice. I would be lying if I said, “I love Halloween.” I mean, I am nearly 30 years old, I’ve got other things on my plate. Some of my friends are parents, diligently pulling together costumes and planning family traditions. Their kids have been fantasizing about superfluous bags of candy for months. Meanwhile, I’m sitting here googling last minute costume ideas. It just seems selfish.  But, I won’t go on record saying “I’d rather stay home,” because I like themed parties and it is fun to see the extent of people’s creativity.

As a kid, I enjoyed Halloween. My parents always let me dress up as long as the costume wasn’t “evil” or distasteful. Typically, I opted to dress as fantastical royalty that I saw in the movies, like BelleJasmine, and The Songhai Princess.  Mom would help me get into character, Dad would take my photo on the front stairs, and then all of us would go trick-or-treating.

Adult Halloween is straightforward. You buy or create a costume, find a party (typically one hosted by the same set of people who threw the party the year before), drink and be merry, and go home. As of late, my costumes have all been dedicated to vintage movie sirens like Pam Grier and Dorothy Dandridge. Why? Well, it’s cheap, pretty easy, and the world doesn’t need another sexy animal or Beyoncé.

This year, I’ve been invited to a party and I have a potential costume in mind. Truth is, my dressing up is contingent upon what my closet allows me to find (hence the last minute search). In a perfect world, Halloween would be cancelled and I could reorganize my closet without feeling totally lame. The other issue with my proposed outfit is that it requires some “throw away” jewelry, which can only be purchased from a specific beauty supply shop located across town. This week has presented commitments that are a bit more pressing than Halloween shopping. That being said, I’m not sure if I will make it to the beauty supply store. Good thing that going to said party as myself is still an option.

You see, being annoyed that I need to run extra errands or dive into the abyss that is my closet in order to celebrate Halloween, are legitimate signs that I am a bit of a Grinch. Plus, the saddest thing about adult Halloween is that candy isn’t really the focal point.  However, the real reason I’ve outgrown Halloween is because every year the same foolishness occurs. Excuse the redundancy but, haven’t we learned? Every time you use someone’s heritage as a costume, a child, who’s fired up for Halloween, cries. Okay, I am just kidding (not really). Every time you use someone’s heritage or culture as a costume, you let the world know you’re ignorant, and in addition to your dignity, you will probably lose some Facebook friends. The gift and the curse of social media brings cultural appropriation and offensive costumes right to your front door, even if they are not trick-or-treating! You know who I am talking about, the girl dressed as a Geisha, complete with eyeliner and a fake accent or the guy in full-blown blackface emulating Kanye West. On the flip side, some costumes are risky. It seems like everyone wants to be Luke Cage this year, but with all that’s gone on, maybe young men (or women) should dress as doctors or something…Oh wait, I forgot. To some people, being Luke Cage, with all his powers, is more believable than actually being a doctor (in real life), I digress. Be Luke Cage if you want, just don’t go bursting into corner stores or stuffing people in trash cans. After all, he is make believe, you’re not. Also, do us all a favor: don’t be a clown. 

My point: Think before you get dressed. If you answer yes to the four questions below, then you may want to reconsider your costume and your Halloween plans altogether.

  1. Do I look offensive?
  2. Do I feel offensive?
  3. Am I at risk of degrading someone’s background or cultural experience?
  4. Could my costume potentially threaten my life?

Call me a Debbie Downer. Maybe, I am, but even if I don’t fully partake in Halloween, you definitely should. No really, it will be fun…