Well, it’s that time of year again for scary movie marathons on AMC, debating the merits of candy corn (there are none) and stupid white people stupid-ing with inappropriate costumes. Every year, I hope we move the needle closer toward a universal understanding regarding the things people should not dress up as for Halloween. But folks like human kale-infused rice cake Megyn Kelly find it fit to ask why it’s not a big deal to wear blackface on Halloween, and I realize we’re nowhere near where we need to be.
Megyn Kelly wonders what the big deal is about blackface pic.twitter.com/07yvYDuAYe
— Tommy Christopher (@tommyxtopher) October 23, 2018
Let’s disregard for a moment that an educated woman who’s pushing 50 evoked the ol’ “well, this was okay when I was a kid” chestnut for her blackface defense (she has since apologized)…the whole conversation about appropriation during Halloween is akin to white people asking why they can’t say the N-word since DMX does it so much: There are literally countless things you can dress up as, so why not wear something that doesn’t run the risk of getting you punched in the mouth? Melissa Rivers made the best – yet most mind-numbingly obvious – point as one of Kelly’s panelists: “If you think it’s offensive, it probably is.”
The freedoms of our country afford everyone the right to dress how they want. But when someone splashes your ignorant ass on that Twitter Summer Jam screen and you’re forced to explain to your boss the next day why they’re fielding thousands of calls and emails to fire you, hindsight will make for a stern teacher. Slathering bronzer all over your face and donning the letters and colors of a Black Greek organization you don’t belong to, will never work out in the end.
If, like Kelly, you really lack the gift of common sense, here are some tips (not just for white people) to make sure you don’t step outside plum dumb this Halloween:
Don’t darken your skin for anything outside of a creature/space alien
Because Black Panther is a comic book hero and at the center of 2018’s second-biggest film, there’s been a bit of discussion regarding the acceptability of white kids dressing up as the Panther for Halloween. I don’t think it’s inappropriate for anyone to rock the head-to-toe Panther getup. But if you, Aidan, direct descendant of freckle-faced redheads from Dublin, have the presence of mind to take it to the next level and don blackface as T’Challa, you deserve the ass-whippin’ you have coming. Take a cue from the scores of Dora the Explorer costumes every year that don’t involve brownface.
If race, ethnicity or nationality is central to the costume, don’t
Look, if you’re a white-boy Wiz Khalifa super-fan and you want to rock gold teeth, a bunch of fake flash tattoos and opt to turn your blonde hair into “locks” so that you resemble a wet Labrador Retriever, have at it. But it’s probably best to avoid costumes that are specifically geared toward a race or ethnicity if it isn’t yours. Don’t be the white lady walking into your cubicle on Wednesday with Day of the Dead skulls covering your face and clothing. If you were born to Tim and Katherine in Provo, Utah, use your God-given noodle to avoid stepping out in a Japanese kimono or an Indian sari.
Chill with the trans costumes
Dressing up as a member of the opposite gender can be tricky since it’s easy to fall into the realm of impropriety. Not too many eyebrows will raise if a Black dude finds some creative way to dress up as Rihanna for Halloween. But if you are a cisgender man specifically dressing up as a trans woman, you’re going down a bad road. Consider that trans women are beaten and murdered simply for being trans, and your costume choice might take on a new meaning for you.
Just stay away from Native American costumes
That means you. Sure, when I was a kid in the 1980s, it was totally acceptable to rock a native costume complete with feathers, war paint and a bow with arrows made of suction darts. I’m pretty sure if you grease my mama’s palms, she might release a photo of me in such a getup. But in 2018, it’s not appropriate for anyone to wear Native costumes outside of actual Native Americans (not you, Elizabeth Warren). And Natives aren’t dressing like that for Halloween anyway, which leaves the number of idiots I should see rocking loincloth at precisely zero.
Dustin J. Seibert is a native Detroiter living in Chicago. Miraculously, people have paid him to be aggressively light-skinned via a computer keyboard for nearly two decades. He loves his own mama slightly more than he loves music and exercises every day only so his French fry intake doesn’t catch up to him. Find him at his own site, wafflecolored.com.