Saturday, October 17, 2009

My Identity Is Not A Costume for You To Wear!




Dear Halloween Lovers,

Every year around this time, I see some idiot running down the street with an "Indian/Native American" costume (it gets worse during Thanksgiving). I have often wondered in this supposed "PC/Post Racial" country, why Americans insist on insulting the Indigenous Native American population by reducing them to mythical creatures of fantasy during Halloween?

I understand that to many Americans, Halloween is a time of blood-curdling fright, fantasy, and sugar candy coated fun! The purpose of the Halloween costume (according to Wikipedia):

"goes back to Celtic traditions of attempting to copy the evil spirits or placate them..Their purpose was to disguise oneself as a harmful spirit and thus avoid harm"

Obviously, the pagan connections of Halloween are long forgotten, and today Americans wear costumes to not only scare, but "to portray the wearer as a character or type of character other than their regular persona at a social event..than would be socially unacceptable otherwise." So if you wish to dress up like mythical creature (Goblin, Spiderman, Unicorn (Heeyyy!), or larger than life celebrity or public figure (Glenn Beck, Paris Hilton, George Bush), than Halloween is your day to do so!
Boo Liv Tyler!


Now, what twists my trick-or-treat bag in a bunch, is where the heck Native Americans fit in all of this! Why is it socially acceptable to dress like the stereotypical Indian: "Brave","Chief", "Princess", "Squaw", "Maiden"? Pardon Moi, but when did the Native American enter the realm of Wizards, Fairies, Super-heroes, Goblins, or Ghouls? When did it become ok to reduce the diversity, language, and culture of nearly 500 different Indigenous tribes into a tacky "costume" of cheap suede, colored feathers, plastic beads, and fringe? Who decided that the history, identity, and lineage of Native Americans could be easily put on and taken off like greasy Halloween face paint? Who was the Native gal or guy, who gave the American people the "Okay" to do this? Who signed the treaty to allow such mockery to run a muck?

Any intelligent person knows that:
  1. Native Americans are REAL people that don't live in Never Never Land, Fantastica, or some stupid Indian Cupboard. Need Proof? Well I am your proof! I live in Apartment in Arizona. Yep! I even wear shoes! Shocker!
  2. The "Noble/Bloodthirsty Savage" stereotypical imagery is a myth.
  3. There are many Native American tribes, which have their own distinct language, culture, and very importantly traditional attire (NOTE: I did not say costume). There are more than 500 Native American tribes in the US, and NONE of them traditional wear a skimpy faux suede fringey number with plastic neon beads, feathers, and a cheap geometric ribbon headband.
  4. Also, the concept of Native American royalty (princess, kings, queens) is a complete bullocks! It was a European concept to simplify the complex social stratification of many Native American tribes. So will someone please yank Pocahontas off the Disney Princess list!? Thank you!



My point is that any intelligent individual knows that Natives (modern or historic) don't look, dress, (or act) anything like the stereotypical Indian get-ups at your local costume store or Wal-mart. Any perceptive person would either roll their eyes at the gross insult to Native American culture, or laugh at the tasteless, "hot mess" of a costume that supposedly passes as some generic Native American attire.

Yet, every year...every freaking Halloween (and Thanksgiving) I see "pale face" men and women prancing around in some stupid "Indian" costume, and behaving like some feral jungle book child; Beating their chest, doing the "Injun" war whoop, and spouting phases like: "How!", "Smoke-um-my-Peace-Pipe", and "What made the red man red?"

As a Native American, I am utterly appalled to see my culture lump together into some stereotypical Pan-Injun image, shipped and sold for the American masses to mimic my people and culture. I find it insulting my identity and heritage as a Native American, as a Navajo, is as easily acquired with few bucks, some nasty grease paint, and a loin cloth. That history of genocide and forced assimilation of Native Americans people in the US is not even an accessory to these supposed costumes! It's not important or even a consideration!!! What a privilege it must be to take the imagery of a people or culture without the social or historical baggage that goes along with it!

I hope you can understand my frustration; that the race and ethnicity of a group of people is not an acceptable Halloween costume!? No one in their right mind would dress up in black face to portray an African-American for Halloween! Hell no! Unless your blatantly racist, or damn ignorant about racial relations in the United States. I mean Michael Scott from the Office wouldn't do that, and that Mo-fo is the most ignorant White-American besides Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh.

So Damn it! LISTEN UP! Halloween Lovers! I'm taking a stand (no DWW jokes!), and I hope that this blog encourages many of you to say:"NO" to wearing Native American costumes for Halloween. I hope you encourage your friends who are thinking about it to also do the same (Hell, spread this blog around!). If I see anyone in some stupid Indian costume (this goes for you Natives as well who think its funny to dress up like this!) I am going to go PETA on your ass with a bucket of paint! BEWARE! This also applies to all REAL Natives and the phony Natives who claim Native lineage! It's not cool! There is nothing more pathetic than a Native wearing an Injun costume! By doing so, you insult our culture, ancestors, and history, and are nothing more than the token Injun for the American guilty conscience.

Great! So back away from the obviously racist "Native American Costume" this year, and go with something less offensive and less gaudy. If you are an intelligent person already, then spread the word against such Halloween offenses. Its not cool to dress up like a Native American, or a person of Asian, Mexican, African decent or any other ethnic group ever lived for that matter!

Your friends will thank you, I will thank you, and you will be saving yourself from the ridicule or snickering from intelligent individuals and/or REAL Native Americans that see your racist costume as an insult to a group of people that inhabited this country before Columbus was even born!

If you are still clueless to why you should wear a  "Injun" costume, please read this:
Question: Should I dress up like a Native American Indian for Halloween?

Thank you,

A REAL Navajo Native American

PMS. It's been two years since I wrote this blog and I am very happy to see that I was able to sway a few people from donning the Stereotypical Indian costume. I don't reply to comments below, but I think I will over the next few days in a separate blog posting, because some of the comments are down right insulting.




Halloween Hall of Shame!! Boooo!

Can I get a Whoop Whoop!? NO!
I think she is ready for some line dancing not a Pow-wow. UGLY!
Let me guess...White Witch from Narnia..in heels?
One little, Two little, Three little insults...
A Native American from Ancient Egypt
No comment..
Poke-your-han-tus
Pale face Red face insult

101 comments:

Anonymous said...

perhaps you're taking yourself a bit too seriously if a "holiday" (I don't even think that's the right term, more like "candy day") like holloween offends you. Being a "person of color" myself (I tell you, I'm tired of the labels - can't I just be an American? Must I be classified as someone who is "victimized"?), I could go around finding many many things to offend me, but honestly, that is just getting out of hand. It seems to me that more and more people are just LOOKING for reasons to feel offended! Are our lives so great that we must hunt for things to get mad at?

ON THE OTHER HAND: Thanksgiving needs revision as far as the perception of native americans go. That's where I draw the line with the stereotypes!

Anonymous said...

Above commenter is either a complete idiot or someone pretending to be a POC. All of those costumes are offensive and should be derided as such. Anon, do yourself a favor and turn in your POC card. You're a fucking moron.

Anonymous said...

"Let me guess...White Witch form Narnia..in heels?"

Bwaahhahaaaaaa!!!!!!!!

dmarks said...

First Anon: "person of color" is synatically clunky way of saying "colored person". Perhaps it is time to move past any version of that?

Anyway, I wanted to point out that a mainstream bland place like Kmart offers 7 "Indian" costumes that I could find online.

Walmart, often maligned as the epitome of retail evil, has nothing show up on an indian costume search. I page through a few pages the list of entries it showed instead, and found some cowboys, but no Indians.

And there are people selling/making "Indian" costumes for dogs. I've seen some photos of these.

shawna x. said...

i agree with this. i've seen a few arab and even white folk 'costumes' just last year. interesting that it seems to be more accepted to dress up as a white person (if you aren't) rather than a white person dressing up as an arab; but that is besides the point.

i can't deny that i've wanted to be pocahontas sometime in my life, as it was my favorite disney movie as a girl. i didn't think of the racial aspect besides just solely wanting to portray the disney character pocahontas. the real blame here is media's representation of race.

but overall, a great article.

Rob said...

Good posting, Brooke!

Why complain about Halloween, Anonymous? Why complain about any racist act? So someone burned a cross in his yard...so what? How does that hurt you or anyone?

Most of the so-called "white" costumes are of occupations, Shawna. They aren't specific to whites and anyone, even Indians, could wear them. If you think only Anglos can be cowboys, pirates, or astronauts, you're proving Brooke's point about stereotyping and its effects.

For more on Indians and Halloween, see Tricking or Treating Indians.

Anonymous said...

so, you're complaining that people are confusing 'real' and 'mythical' characters, and then getting offended that the costumes don't represent the 'real' versions. obviously they don't; as you yourself said to begin with, halloween is about dressing up as mythical characters.

there's no room for sarcasm or satire in your description, to say nothing of humor or imagination. commenters taking it upon themselves to police other people's true identities are, i'd say, more disturbing than pocahontas outfits.

there's a lot of serious racism out there, and a lot of it comes out to play on halloween. any costume which amounts to kicking its subject while they are down, figuratively speaking, really should be suspect (unless we happen to think they deserve to be kicked... dubya, say). in other words, power differences do matter. but the notion that absolutely any representation involving an ethnicity is automatically racist isn't very helpful. if it is extended to a space alien costume whose only offense is to expose the absurdity of the notion that fellow humans are branded as aliens, you've clearly gone way too far.

dmarks said...

The last anon above this comment said: "but the notion that absolutely any representation involving an ethnicity is automatically racist isn't very helpful."

Is that even relevant? Can you point to even one of these Native-related costumes that is not a blatant stereotype, and thus racist?

I think you'd have a point if there were a bunch of Wilma Mankiller, Chief Joseph, and John Herrington costumes alongside the eternal parade of Chiefs, Squaws, and Braves.

shawna x. said...

Rob, you have misinterpreted my point. when I say 'white costumes', I mean when someone of another ethnicity dressing up as a white person... wig, white makeup, and all.

sisterface said...

@Anonymous - "You're taking it too seriously" and "Aren't there more important things to worry about?" are both classic, played-out derailment tactics. You probably *don't* get it, but your ignorance is derailing a serious, grown-up conversation. Read some 101, figure out *why* you're afraid to confront the transparent racism of this topic, and then come back and re-join the conversation.

shawna x. said...

I see the anon's point about the space alien merely exposing the absurdity that fellow humans are branded as aliens, but you can also view it in way that illegal immigrants are aliens - foreign and inhuman - which makes an apparent offense.

Anonymous said...

the fact that it is *possible* to construe something (eg the illegal alien costume) as racist, does not make it racist, any more than the converse is true--that the fact that it is *possible* to construe a racist costume as satirizing the absurdity of race makes it okay.

the point is that blanket proclamations such as 'all costumes involving ethnically linked representations are racist' aren't, in fact, part of a grown-up discussion of racism. grown-ups have to make distinctions, interpretations, and deal with the fact that if other people don't see it exactly the same way it doesn't necessarily mean either one of you is wrong, or not a 'real' person of color, or 'serious' about the discussion.

Anonymous said...

liv taylor's dad is of cherokee descent. so it's at least partly 'her' identity she's wearing, too.

Rob said...

No one has said anything like "All costumes involving ethnically linked representations are racist," Anonymous. You know, the straw-man argument you keep putting falsely in quotes?

Brooke made it clear what she was talking about when she wrote:

Why is it socially acceptable to dress like the stereotypical Indian: "Brave", "Chief", "Princess", "Squaw", "Maiden"?

So why aren't you dealing with what she actually said? Is it because you can't, or you won't?

DMarks reiterated the point when he noted that no one is dressing up as a real Indian--e.g., Wilma Mankiller or John Herrington. If you disagree, post a link to anyone trick-or-treating as a 20th or 21st century Indian. Go ahead...we'll wait.

Hysterically, your comment about Liv Tyler proves our point, not yours. Cherokees didn't wear buckskin outfits like Disney's Pocahontas. Here's what a typical Cherokee looked like

http://images.google.com/images?q=sequoyah

So Liv Tyler's stereotypical costume has reinforced your stereotypical notion of what Indians look like. And you were too ignorant to know the difference. To you, all Indians resemble the caricatures in old Westerns and sports logos.

You either don't know or don't care that Indians come from hundreds of disparate cultures. That they're as different from each other as the people of Ireland, Greece, Russia, Sweden, and Spain. To you, they're all the same.

To reiterate, you thought Liv Tyler = Cherokee = Indian princess = Pocahontas. You thought this because you've seen it in countless Halloween costumes. Thanks for demonstrating so clearly what's wrong with pretending to be an "Indian" on Halloween.

Anonymous said...

rob--to paraphrase joan baez, you know a lot.

you're wrong, of course. the op does clearly extend the argument to all ethnic costumes. it's both implicit and explicit; eg, she states:
"Its not cool to dress up like a Native American, or a person of Asian, Mexican, African decent or any other ethnic group ever lived for that matter!" (sic)

so no straw men were harmed in the making of this argument--at least not from my side.

as for your example of what a 'typical' cherokee looked like: isn't the whole point of this discussion to expose the problems with generalization and stereotyping? you've arbitrarily picked one individual from one specific time period (why not present day? why not 15th century?) as a 'typical' representation. it's no more valid than pointing to a picture of a cowboy wearing a blue bandanna as evidence that a halloween costume using a red bandanna is wrong.

on the other hand, you presume to know a great deal about what i think and where i learned it--all of which happens to be false. you are avoiding several issues brought up in my and others' posts already. the most obvious of which is simply "who decides?" why should i let you decide for me (or for liv tyler, for that matter) what my identity means to me, or what a costume means to that identity? if you want 'authentic' costumes, fine, ban all fancydancing outfits--you've proclaimed them an insult to your (and the wearers') cultures. if on the other hand you admit that culture is a living, changing, heterogeneous thing, perfectly capable of accommodating fancy beadwork and etc., well then, i'm sorry, but neither you nor any other individual is in charge of how exactly it gets interpreted, reinvented, and repurposed.

all of this ignores the initial fallacy of the original posting: as if the point of halloween costumes is to create authentic representations of real people. obviously, it isn't, and never has been, as the op herself initially acknowledged.

there is a genuine racist hazard lurking (sometimes much more than lurking) in some halloween costumes. i think that for those of us who want to do something about it, it is incumbent upon us to make the case far more rigorously and persuasively than it's being made here. a blanket ban (so to speak) on ethnically-tinged costumes isn't likely to be very helpful in actually combatting racism.

ShannMitch said...

While I agree with your point that some costumes can be offensive, I think there is a way of dealing with it that does come across so much as a 'rant.'

I also find it interesting that you only seem to feel that mythical costumes should be used for Halloween. Is it also bad to dress up as a Doctor? A police officer?

I'm not trying to provoke anyone, just asking a few questions.

kbee said...

thanks for writing this article :) reaaaally appreciate it !

in solidarity

Anonymous said...

I suppose this is where I'm supposed to chime in and say "omg, that is so racist", but I am hesitant to do so.

These are COSTUMES, not representations of real people. I for one have enough faith that these costume-wearers are not mocking a particular race, culture, ethnicity on HALLOWEEN. When you say, "My identity is not a costume for you to wear!" you admit to identifying with these caricatures in real life, a type of racial victimization that I will not readily accept.

Really, we need to grow up and out of our tendencies to point our fingers at what offends us on every occasion. I am more concerned with ACTUAL incidents of racism and prejudices that people fight with every day.

I am a minority, and in essence, I too would fall into the category of being "mocked" at Halloween, if Indians and NAs are "mocked" at Halloween. However, I have never identified with these costumes as anything to do with myself, and I would be shocked if I didn't have enough self-confidence to let that type of humor pass. I feel sorry for people that don't.

The history of how Halloween came to be is also irrelevant because human celebrations are historically subject to change. Not everybody needs to be a ghost or Jack-'o-lantern for Halloween. I saw an iPod once, and I doubt anybody told him he was out of costume...

Treebot said...

I'd like to say that I don't think this has as much to do with race as it does with power. As in, the dominant group belittles the minority. I do agree that dressing exclusively like an ethnic group is offensive, but here's the thing: nobody ever expressed offense when John Cleese dressed up like this: http://www.geocities.com/fang_club/scotsman_on_a_horse.jpg
even though the English brutally repressed and marginalized the Scottish people for many years. It's exactly the same thing...someone dresses like an "indian", someone else dresses like a "scotsman". So where's the outrage over that?
And, are all white people equally culpable for the insults of other white people? I would certainly hope that I wasn't being lumped in with an entire group of people based on the colour of my skin.

treebot said...

A question for the author: How would you feel if I dressed up as Louis Riel, a famous Canadian freedom fighter who was hanged for insurrection and rebellion? He was metis.

Anonymous said...

I think the person who said they wanted to be like the DISNEY CHARACTER POCAHONTAS proves the point well. Disney's Pocahontas is not real for many reasons but let's just take the fact that in the movie they have her looking like she's in her early 20s!

People wouldn't want to dress up like Matoaka, but as Pocahontas/Rebecca as told in MYTHOLOGY. Like a Disney costume and throughout American history, the indigenous people have been slandered and mocked, and turned into characters.

Dressing up like a fantasy character that doesn't exist is one thing, dressing up like an ignorant mythically conceived notion of a whole group of people is another.

Anonymous said...

your far too sensitive

Seishin Pop Shop said...

I saw a news article that featured a costume that was pulled off from racks at Target, WalMart and some other big stores. It was a green alien dressed in an orange jumpsuit with big, bold black letters saying: "ILLEGAL ALIEN"

...what has this come to?

Maria Gonzalez said...

While I disagree with the author's statement that Halloween costumes are offensive, I respect his opinion, do not demean how he feels about it, and thank him for putting it out here for everyone to see and discuss.

I do want to implore commenters to please look up the definition of "racism" before throwing it around.

The message I'm taking from this is: have a happy halloween, dress up as you'd like, but be prepared to be condemned by the likely individual that will be offended.

The question is: will you walk on eggshells?

Anonymous said...

Sometimes people dress up as someone they admire.... I'm Cherokee. I could care less. Our people are celebrated on the most fun day of the year. Great!

To say someone is racist because they want to emulate our old ways is entirely too touchy.

People dress up like Abe Lincoln too... does that make them racist for dressing like a white man?

They're a LOT of battles to fight. This doesn't strike me as one of them.

Alison Leach said...

I agree that Halloween costumes can be offensive, especially if the person wearing them is being disrespectful. However, there are many other costumes that are not mystical in any way--cheerleaders, doctors, sailors, cats, etc. And they too promote an identity. You have to think about it, cheerleaders are portrayed stereotypically easy, dumb and vain--should we not dress up as them? Do they get offended?

When I was little, I dressed up like an Indian, because I really admired them and their culture. I wrote multiple papers and assignments on different groups and their history. My costume was probably cheap and definitely had plastic beads, but none of that was meant to be rude or offensive. If anything, I found something that I thought was really interesting and learned more about it. I am sure this is not the case for everyone, but it still seems to be a valid point.

All in all, Halloween is supposed to be fun. I think we need to remember that and not be so easy to anger and take a joke (as long as it is not blatantly rude or purposely offensive).

Mackenzie said...

"i can't deny that i've wanted to be pocahontas sometime in my life, as it was my favorite disney movie as a girl. i didn't think of the racial aspect besides just solely wanting to portray the disney character pocahontas."

She was an actual historical figure, though. And the writer says actual famous people are ok. So if you dressed like actual historical Pocahontas (not the Disney version), would that be ok? In my mind, that'd go into the same category as dressing up like Frederick Douglass or Gandhi.

RachelH said...

I don't understand the people who are trying to argue that these costumes are not offensive. The proof that they are offensive is that this blog author has been offended by them. Offended enough to compose a blog entry even. This means if you dress like this this Halloween and walk down the street, you are likely to offend (some) people.

So knowing that, and given the HUGE variety of costumes out there that are NOT offensive, why would you still want to wear one of these? You are acting as though someone is trying to take away some right of yours to wear what you like. Of course they are not. No one is about to legislate about these costumes. But you can take this (and many other) blog posts as a warning that if you do exercise your "right" to wear something like this, you are going to piss people off and show yourself up as ignorant and/or rude.

Aliza "La Jewminicana" Hausman said...

Thanks, RachelH, well said.

pheenobarbidoll said...

Thank you. The comments perfectly illustrate how NA issues are dismissed, even by other POC. When you're on the bottom of the rung even other oppressed races feel free to shit upon you. And it's somehow OK because they aren't white.

Like I fucking feel better when it's an African American dismissing my offense, or somehow it's more valid to dismiss it. Or they're not being just as big of a bigot as a white person.

ShannMitch said...

I don't normally respond directly to another blogger... but wow pheenobarbiedoll...

First of all, don't put down your own race, whatever it may be, by calling yourself the 'bottom rung' of the ladder. It only makes it easier for other people to do it.

And don't assume I'm a bigot because I'm white. If you do, you're no better (actually, you're much, much worse), than anyone choosing to dress up as something for Halloween.

While yes, the costumes in the original article are over the top and stereotypical, have you ever thought that someone is dressing up as Native American because they're proud of that culture? Because they admire it? My guess is no. You're probably generalizing that they're making fun of it, instead of being proud that someone is interested in your culture.

Don't put someone's culture down. They're not necessarily making a statement about your own culture. I don't get offended by sites or books such as "Stuff White People Like." In fact, I think Hey, that's funny, and you know what? It's kind of true."

Instead of jumping to conclusions, as well as down someone's throat, why don't you take a minute to compliment someone on dressing on such an impressive race with so much incredible history? Choose to educate them instead of starting a fight, and make yourself and your culture proud.

Anonymous said...

I disagree; I think this person is way too sensitive.

First off this is obviously not their identity if the live in an apartment and where shoes.

It’s a costume not a mockery! Do doctors complain when they see someone dress as doctor?
Now the ever so popular hippy costume would be a mockery of a hippy’s identity.

People need to STFU and stop being all butt hurt, when someone is just trying to have a good time.

I have Native ancestors and this doesn’t bother me at all. In fact if this does bother you should reconsider your battles as you are probably too much empathy in your apathy tank.

Rob said...

You're still misquoting Brooke, Anonymous. Still inventing straw-man arguments. You've yet to address her point about stereotypical ethnic costumes.

For my full response, see Liv Tyler = Cherokee Pocahontas?!

Anonymous said...

Oh, shut up. I'm of Native American ancestry and would totally wear some of those costumes.

People need to get the stick out of their asses already.

Some who thinks a lot of people need to pull the rods out of their asses said...

Someone needs to take a chill pill. Look, I'm on NA ancestry too, and my mother looks full NA (blend of two tribes). My dad's side is Irish, Scottish, English, and French. Irish people are portrayed as a bunch of drunks at Halloween, Scottish people all must wear kilts, right? English people all have bad teeth, and French people all wear turtlenecks and berets. Even faux-American costumes are found quite often in the form of awful Colonial outfits in bright pink and black lace. The sacred gods of Greeks, Egyptians, and other cultures are all seen as fair game too. The modern witch costume is a poke at Pagans, a real and valid religion.

Almost every year I've actually seen people dress up as "white boys". Not black rappers, but the stereotypical dumbass white-boy "wigger". No one ever complains about this.

You're taking Halloween way too seriously. There isn't a costume out there that isn't going to offend someone. Even the stereotypical princess costume can offend those who are of genuine royal bloodlines whose royal relations would never dress in gaudy costume satins or in "sexy" things that show their butts. Hippies are a culture, nurses don't go around in skimpy dresses and don't even wear nursing hats anymore, and there is no real doctor named Dr. McDreamy. Cops don't dress like they do on Reno 911. Geeks don't pull their pants to their chins, wear pocket protectors, braces and glasses, and snort when they laugh. The real historical figures on which King Arther and Lady Guinevere are based didn't wear plastic armor or cheap panne velvet. These costumes are ALL also seen in spades.

I guess then that the only solution is to ban all costumes that aren't 100% correct for their time period, all costumes that aren't based on a specific historical figure of the same race as the person portraying that person, and to ban any costumes altogether that represent a culture that's not white American. Right?

No?

Then bend over and pull that rod out of your ass. Halloween isn't every day. It's a day where people have fun dressing as someone (or something - there are plenty of people who dress as toys) they're not. This world can never be 100% completely PC. That would involve getting rid of even gender. It's ain't happening, get used to it, and find better ways to promote the good of various cultures rather than bitching that for one night of the year people dress in stereotypical costumes of all nationalities, occupations, and so on.

pheenobarbidoll said...

1) I'm not interested if someone else is "proud" of my culture. Most of the time they know fuck all about it. I've had my fill of other people trying to get in touch with their "Indian" side. And if you're so proud of it and respectful of it, try respecting the people who DONT WANT IT TO BE A FUCKING MASCOT OR COSTUME. Wow. There's an idea. Practice the bullshit you're preaching.

2)Have you BEEN to a reservation? They're 3rd world conditions. No running water, no electricity, rape is higher than any other groups rates (and by non natives), suicide is rampant, no health care and we still get rotten fucking food from the US government. Oh and up until the 80's, we were forcefully sterilized.

3) Brush up on those reading skills. I never said all white people are bigots. But lookit how you just turned a conversation about my culture into a "comfort the poor offended white person"

It's not about you. It's about us. And if you're not acting like a bigot, don't identify with them.

Also, I clearly said people of color think they CAN be racist against Indians because they aren't white. So spare me your inability to comprehend a simple concept and stop making this about the white people.

And your intent never ever trumps the affects your actions/words have on other people.


It's not my job to educate you. Check your privilege. It is not my job to teach a grown ass adult how to not be a bigot or offensive. Pick up a fucking book. Read. Educate yourself. That is, if you actually give a shit and aren't just demanding we stop talking about our oppression so we can focus on your butthurt fee fees. People of color don't have to choke back how we really feel because YOU don't like how we tell you to stop being racist.

It is not the burden of the oppressed to lift your foot off our necks--it's your job to pick up your goddamn feet.


Go read this. Learn.

http://kittikattie.livejournal.com/796501.html

Jezebella said...

Wow, this entire thread is an object lesson in white privilege. Someone is offended by racist crap, and a bunch of people jump in and tell them why they shouldn't be. It's not up to the majority to decide when and if the minority can be offended. Fellow white people, shut the fuck up and listen for once.

Brent said...

Someone wearing the costumes of another culture is automatically a mockery of said culture. I always want to know, how? To quote some Natives I was talking to just the other day, in response to the question "What tribal moccasins do you prefer?", the overwhelming reply was "Nike". Does that mean that Nike is now ours and those white people cannot ever use it? I mean, we are literally stating here that costumes our people never wore are making fun of us.
People dressed up like Richard III aren't covered in manure and Plague either. Does that make them insulting to all the people who died at the time?
It's not a question of necessity or contemporary accuracy, it is a costume. It has no reason to come from a sense of dignity and propriety. Or people portraying zombies can only do so if they have actual head-wounds and festering sores. "But zombies aren't real". EXACTLY!
Neither are cowboys. Not our cliche, giant belt buckle, over-sized hat, loose-fit chaps cowboy, that guy isn't real. It's a show.
It's not a question of being too serious about the issue, it's a question of feeling that jokes somehow have to remain appropriately respectful. Which is ridiculous. Yes, the French Maid and the Opera Phantom and Tinker Bell and the Pregnant Nun and all the others are a veritable cavalcade of stereotypes and outright vulgarities and profanities and inhuman monsters. That's the point. Halloween has become, by several dozen accidents of history, a bizarre combination of The Lord of Misrule, and a harvest festival, and The Day of The Dead, and the Celtic New Year, and Mardi Gras, and the Egyptian End of Year, and several other things. It doesn't even know WHAT holiday it is, how can we define one side or the other of being *too* corrupt in their representations?
I see the fake-Indians like everything else on Halloween, as a myth made real for one day a year specifically to punctuate its absurdity. It won't cost me any points at my next drum if I point and laugh at some blindingly pale-faced "Pocahontas" walking past me with a Wal-Mart bag full of manufactured non-food and carrying a "jack-o-lantern" flashlight. Why take it seriously if I don't have to? And by that I mean, can anyone point to a BIA policy decision in the last 50 years based on a Halloween costume?
It isn't victimization or insidious when someone wears clothing my tribe never wore in the first place on the one day a year when everyone on the street is dressed like a lunatic. If they want to insult me, they're going to have to try a lot harder.

pheenobarbidoll said...

Do you people really have to have the difference between dressing as a historical figure or profession and dressing as a mother fucking RACIAL stereotype explained to you?

Jesus. I'm starting to think some of you don't see the racial implications not because you're privileged bigots but because you're plain out fucking stupid. Like, mouth breathing I'm surprised you don't fall down more utterly stupid.

If the goddamned stereotype is/was used to portray a group of people being slaughtered or shat upon as Stupid, Monolithic, Other, Bad, Dirty, Savage, or in any other way less than human mother fucking beings who do not have interchangeable culture/heritage etc, then it's a goddamn insulting stereotype.

For fucks sake.


And " I don't see it" is the logical fallacy of the moron.

I've never seen Chicago either, but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist.


Idiots.

SDC said...

Those people in those costumes hate America.

Brent said...

Hey, pheenobarb, take a breath. This post was about Halloween costumes. Halloween is a specific day of the year where we're surrounded by tons of racial stereotypes: "Traditional" vampires make fun of Eastern Europeans. Mummies make fun of Egyptian burial practices and religion. All the nuns and priests make fun of Catholics. So how racist is it of you for only noticing the Indian part?
There are REAL racial issues, and then there are straw men deflecting attention. Halloween is the greatest straw man of them all, it's the one day of the year where you have to decide if you're more offended by the guy who's wearing a Caddo headdress wrong, or by the fake tomahawk sticking out of his forehead. Would you even know IF they were wearing a Caddo headdress wrong? Pick a different day, and I'll care. Pick an issue that matters, and I'll care.
"I don't see the racial implications as significant" means we are not choosing to see THIS stereotype as more offensive than any other stereotype on a day that's FULL of racial and cultural and sexual stereotypes. I could choose to see someone dressed as a werewolf as exploiting the Quileutes. Is it true? Probably not. But does that mean if I make a big enough stink about it I'm suddenly more racially aware than you?
You're assuming all Indians speak as one and we all have a problem with this issue. We don't, and we don't. Calling us idiots and morons won't change that we are allowed to disagree on this issue. We don't need your permission.

pheenobarbidoll said...

I'm Indian, thankyouverymuch. And I don't need your permission either.

Werewolves aren't real. You can't insult a werewolf. Nuns and Catholic Priests represent Xtianity, which isn't exactly an oppressed religion in the US. Nor is it a race.

And last I checked, Eastern Europeans aren't dead and don't drink blood.

Stop with the logical fallacies. Go look them up if you don't know. Not remarking on all forms of racism does not= not noticing or not caring. I'm remarking on the one that gets far less airtime.

Stop speaking for me, yanno, since you admit we aren't all one voice.

Don't tell me what I can or can't find offensive, simply because you don't. I didn't ask you what you thought, now did I? You can safely assume I don't care.

dmarks said...

"..white people, shut the fuck up ..."

Hard to get more racist than that.

Anonymous said...

She's white. So sorry, white people aren't being racist by telling other white people to STFU.

Racism= prejudice + power. There's no such thing as reverse racism. Prejudice? Sure. But not racism. Not so long as white people as a whole have all the socio-economic power.

Like the government, the law makers, law enforcers, land owners, business owners etc.

Brent said...

Hey pheno, you're right, Catholics aren't a race, but then I didn't say they were. And I gave werewolves as exploitation, not that I worried about hurting their feelings. See, you have to read the whole sentence. Fallacy and fabrication, two different words there.
Tell ya what, you show me one picture in the original post that represents an ACTUAL tribe being mocked and then I MIGHT take you seriously. Blanket indignation is not proof. Pick a different day.

dmarks said...

Anon: Someone issued a gag order based on skin color. Looks rather racist, no matter what the race of the person issuing the order.

"Racism= prejudice + power"

Actually, no:

racism
1. a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to rule others.
2. a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination.
3. hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.


The definition of racism has nothing to do with "power". One can be racist with a lot of power, or none. Of course, power can make racism worse. Also, racists are found in every race.

The "whites shut up" idea first perfectly with definition #2.

The "white people as a whole" concept you voice fits in with this as well. This also fits in with #2, as you make inaccurate generalizations based on skin color. A very unintellectual, simplistic, and lazy (not to mention racist) attempt to ignore real differences among people and to appeal to a racial stereotype.

Quite simply, it's a form of racial profiling.

Anonymous said...

The definition of racism has nothing to do with "power". One can be racist with a lot of power, or none. Of course, power can make racism worse. Also, racists are found in every race.

While I understand that some people are seeking to redefine racism as "prejudice + power," I do agree that the term racism is clear cut in its definition and that it would facilitate the discussion if people did the research to learn that racism which equals prejudice + power is called "institutionalized racism."

When there's already a word with a broad definition and a specific term for what you're speaking about appropriating the current definitions seems to set the discussion back instead of moving it forward because people waste time arguing about what racism means. The ability to determine between racism and institutionalized racism is a valuable one. Racism is a word for a specific type of prejudice, not all prejudice is racism but all racism is prejudice, and without this distinction people tend to produce the befuddling sentence "You can't be racist if you're in power, you can only be prejudiced."

I'm sure I could have other things to say about this discussion, but they would all undermine how I really wish that people would stick with the system of increasingly specific terms that we already have to describe these social phenomena.

Anonymous said...

Of course, I could be far more clear, myself, when I wrote "appropriating the current definitions" I actually meant to write "appropriating the current terms and assigning your own definitions."

Anonymous said...

I made considerable typos in that first version. I now understand what preview is for. This is the correct version and if the previous two comments were deleted that would be keen:

The definition of racism has nothing to do with "power". One can be racist with a lot of power, or none. Of course, power can make racism worse. Also, racists are found in every race.

While I understand that some people are seeking to redefine racism as "prejudice + power," I do agree that the term racism is clear cut in its definition and that it would facilitate the discussion if people did the research to learn that "racism which equals prejudice + power" is called "institutionalized racism."

When there's already a term with a broad definition and a specific term for what you're speaking about, appropriating the current terms and assigning your own definitions seems to set the discussion back instead of moving it forward because people waste time arguing about what racism means.

The ability to determine between racism and institutionalized racism is a valuable one. Racism is a word for a specific type of prejudice, not all prejudice is racism but all racism is prejudice, and without this distinction people tend to produce the befuddling sentence "You can't be racist if you're not in power, you can only be prejudiced."

I'm sure I could have other things to say about this discussion, but they would all undermine how I really wish that people would stick with the system of increasingly specific terms (prejudice > racism > institutionalized racism) that we already have to describe these social phenomena.

Anonymous said...

If you're white in a white dominant culture, you have power. Do not equate class/wealth inequities with having no power. ALL you have to do is say " they're just playing the race card" and instantly you have backing by the dominant group in this country, who think they're actually the victims of reverse racism.

THAT is the power in power+prejudice=racism.

Anonymous said...

Oh and let me remind you : It wasn't POC who came up with the definition of racism.

The current dictionary definition is limited, and ignores a great deal of ways racism manifests and is perpetuated.

Anonymous said...

http://theangryblackwoman.wordpress.com/2006/05/07/some-things-you-need-to-understand-1/

Brent said...

I'm with dmarks, if we're going to say People Of Color, that's just saying Colored People.
Idi Amin was colored, he was pretty powerful, he was also extremely racist. It seems that colored people *can* be racist. And there's always Hirohito and Mao, or Anwar al-Sadat. Guess anybody can be racist.
But that doesn't matter because that has absolutely NOTHING to do with whether or not Halloween costumes designed to be reminiscent of a cliched Native American style of dress that never existed, are actually demeaning to actual Native Americans. Debating the definition of racism is just reckless. And it's done what it's supposed to do, reduced the whole dispute to mindless vitriol and hyperbole.
Tacky costumes are not voting rights, they're not the chiefdom of Mrs. Mankiller. They are damn sure not cross burnings, Rob. Hell, if I were black I'd be pretty pissed to hear someone compare a dizzy blond with a feather in their hair to 20 hooded Klansmen murdering a family. And I'm pretty disgusted at the idea that the history of the Natives, and the history of the blacks in the Reconstruction South, are being blended like we're all the same people so it doesn't matter which one gets referenced. Now THAT'S racist.
And I have yet to see why racial stereotypes are, alone, singularly, specifically, exclusive of ALL other stereotypes on parade on Halloween, the most important to notice and disparage. Saying Halloween is racist is like saying winter is cold. Righteous indignation about anything on Halloween is throwing a rock at the ground, it would be more surprising to miss.
Or, to paraphrase the title of the original post: My identity and people are not reducible to nothing more than fodder for a Halloween fashion rant.

crownless said...

Nobody will win when we talk about stereotypes : (

Anonymous said...

Not to rehash an old old old post, but I just stumbled across this and think it's a magnificent idea! But while on that subject, allow us to also rid ourselves of the following costumes!

http://www.costumesinc.com/t78/Arabian-and-Belly-Dancer-Adult-Costumes.html
Arabian Belly Dancer costumes!

http://www.costumesinc.com/p15794/Sassy-Lassie-Costume-Womens-Sexy-Historical-Costume.html

http://www.costumesinc.com/p9097/Scottish-Clansman-Costume-Adult-Ethnic-Costume.html
Sassy Lassie and Scottish Clansman makes Scots look bad!

http://www.costumesinc.com/f26/roman_togas_cleopatra_wigs_and_asp_jewelry.html
"Spartan Princess?" "Forum Senator?" "Egyptian Queen?" These are not historically accurate and even derisive to Italian people's heritages. Nor are the togas accurately representative of the real way the garment should be worn!!

http://www.costumesinc.com/t757/Viking-Adult-Costumes.html
Vikings?! Really?! The Scandinavians would be ashamed to see how their image has been completely messed up!

http://www.costumesinc.com/t103/Religious-Adult-Costumes.html
If race should be outruled, so should religion, I mean, it's essentially part of heritage as well. It's very important to the cultures.

Also on list of easily google-able costumes that shouldn't be worn:
German Maid, Swedish Maid, Geisha, Samurai, Senorita, Gaucho, Sheik of Persia, Ninja, Dragon Lady, China Town, Bollywood, Gypsy, Russian, French, really anything on this website:
http://www.costumecraze.com/History-Costumes.html
and that's just a small list.

But yes, please! Let's work towards removing racism from our world together!! One Sexy Highland Scottish Wench costume at a time!!

Julio said...

What's the problem, exactly?

If you want to dress up as an Italian I don't care.

Yes, you are being overly sensitive and making an issue out of nothing.

Jackie Ayres said...

The mind of the person IN the costume makes it offensive or not. So does the mind of those who judge it.

I'm from Native, Black and White background. I've been an Native for Halloween. I've been a "Black Power Disco Dancer" for Halloween. I'm now gonna be a Celtic Priestess for Halloween.

People are too sensitive these days. So we could never dress our kids as cowboys or pirates either, as they also existed! Nor as witches, because they DO exist. Imagine that! lol I'm a witch per religion, if I were to be offended by every little, cute, witch I see on Halloween (or by the too-sexy adult ones). Oh, please! It's just a time to have fun. Leave the prejudice aside and go trick-or-treat! No one is trying to offend no one in Halloween... just get some candies with the kids and have some fun! ;)

Anonymous said...

(Part 1 of 2)

I've read blogs and forums on this topic for about an hour now. My question is only for Angry Navajo, not a challenge, an earnest question:

My 6-yr-old has a Halloween party at school. The kids can come as a character from a book. He debated between 1) Harry Potter 2) Hiawatha 3) Henry from the "Henry and Mudge" book series. Maybe he has an "H" thing, I don't know. Anyhow, these are all characters from books we have read to him; we've read Hiawatha and Henry and Mudge many, many times. Harry Potter only the one time because that one is a bitch to read out loud, you know?

He chose Hiawatha and had to send in a paper on which he wrote the character's name, the book it was from, and a sentence describing his favorite part of the book. He said it was ‘when the father and son sat in the canoe together at night and looked up in the sky to see the people from the past.’ Poetic. And in our family, we talk about the people from our past, including my great-uncle, who was a spiritual leader, and for whom our son was named. Maybe you have to see the illustrations in this version, but it's not so much about their costumes, it's about their spirit. Or at least that's how I feel about it. We all have ancestors in the sky

Our son is so so very interested in what that boy's life was like. Meaning, historically it is fascinating to a boy when you think about finding your own food, having your own knife for hunting, sleeping outdoors, and so on.

So his dad and I thought we would surprise him by ALSO showing up in costume, as Hiawatha's parents, who are also in the story. And when my husband was growing up, he and his dad used to pretend they were Indians outdoors together and go on a hunt, and they made special necklaces for each other. And he still has that necklace today. And our son now wears the one that my husband wore as a child, with his father.

In the same way that we are FASCINATED by the Little House on the Prairie books, we are fascinated by Indians. What I mean by this is, it's not about race—and maybe that’s the insulting part, that it marginalizes the fact that Indians are actually a different RACE from our family?--but it's about the sociological aspects of how people used to live – whether they be prairie settlers or Indians or knights in medieval times or roman gladiators and so forth. Things like churning your own butter, making your own clothing, making your own home, hunting your food, and so on.

Anonymous said...

Seriously. Seriously. All this buzz over a costume?!? in that case I guess while they are pulling all the native american costumes they can also pull the ninja ones, the geisha ones, and I consider myself "rockabilly" so to keep me from getting offended I think they should also pull the "greaser" ones. And hell while they're at it they should pull any "gangster" ones too. We wouldn't want to promote violence and racism in one holiday now would we???

JM Lawrence said...

White privilege is off the fucking charts up in here.

Hey white folks, when your people somehow become the victims of genocide, rape, sterilization, mass eviction and oppression...

when your people are derided and reduced to FUCKING STEREOTYPES...

When you turn on the TV and all you see are Asians, Africans and Hispanics...

When you compare poverty rates and incarceration rates and see the demographic YOU belong to squarely in the middle...

And finally, when you get a racially and religiously homogenous majority telling you to shut the fuck up and take it like the little brown sods we are...

Only when all of these, and many more, conditions are met, will you guys figure it out.

Until that happens, if you're going to tell me to check my rage, I'm fully within my rights to call you on your privilege and tell you to eat shit. Peace.

positive influence said...

I think a major point is being missed here, which is that although pretty much every culture/category of person can be seen in a reductive and offensive costume during halloween, you will not find people 'dressing up' as any other culture/group which suffered a form of genocide which killed over 90% of the people of that race in one country, BESIDES native american people.

indigenous people the world over face enough problems trying to retain their culture, the last thing that is needed is a widespread misappropriation and misunderstanding of those various cultures.

there are likely to be sensitive people that are offended by any type of racism, whether well-meaning or not, but not all of the groups that get made fun of are people that still face actual social exclusion because of the group/race they belong to.
so this is not a clear-cut 'everyone's fair game' debate, because the reality is that life isn't equally fair for all peoples, and until that is addressed, the people that are socially excluded (or at risk of exclusion), have every damn right to be offended.

as a white english person, I accept that I have inherited certain benefits in life that are the result of the exploitation of other nations. that is not my fault, but it is a fact. partly due to this fact, I make an effort to be respectful of other cultures, which means not appropriating aspects of those cultures, at least not without first making an attempt to understand the item I'm appropriating PROPERLY.

the old 'but I'm honoring your people!' line just doesn't stand up if the people you're trying to 'honor' don't actually feel honored.
if you have a genuine interest in a culture, do some damn research.
I have found a lot in various native american cultures that I like, but I don't feel the need to dress up in silly costumes to honor those cultures. I do that through my actions, by taking on positive influence from other peoples, to make me a better person. I couldn't care less about 'looking like an indian', whatever that means. I find common ground with my indigenous friends through our shared thoughts and feelings, which far transcend cultural boundaries and stupid things like the way we look.

if you think dressing up 'as an indian' is about honoring a culture, you're wrong.
you can't 'dress like AN indian' without resorting to stereotypes. stereotypes which are hurtful to native people because they encourage racist ideas such as the 'indian drunk/brave/squaw/medicine man'; ideas which tell us that native people are either hopelessly stuck in the past, or living miserably in the modern world, which are both reductive ideas and completely untrue.

the fact is, if you resort to perpetuating those stereotypes, you are doing that because otherwise OTHER PEOPLE won't recognise your 'costume'.
therefore, you are not doing it to 'honor native people/your native heritage/etc', you are doing it because it's cool. because other people will appreciate it.
if that wasn't the case, you would make the effort to dress in an authentic, non-offensive costume.

sure, it's cool for us all to have a sense of humor and make fun of each other. maybe we can even make fun of jewish people again now too, never mind that racial stereotyping was the catalyst for the holocaust, it's ok now cos we've apologised, right? we gave them their own country and everything.

if that were even true, it would only serve to illustrate the fact that while the full extent of the indian genocide remains hidden from public knowledge, it's not ok to perpetuate the stereotypes that cause racism against native people. even if some native people can't see that connection, it does exist.
it's not the biggest issue for native people, but where better to start than the root of the problem?

positive influence said...

I think a major point is being missed here, which is that although pretty much every culture/category of person can be seen in a reductive and offensive costume during halloween, you will not likely find people 'dressing up' as any other culture/group which suffered a form of genocide which killed over 90% of the people of that race in one country, BESIDES native american people.

indigenous people the world over face enough problems trying to retain their culture, the last thing that is needed is a widespread misappropriation and misunderstanding of those various cultures.

there are likely to be sensitive people that are offended by any type of racism, whether well-meaning or not, but not all of the groups that get made fun of are people that still face actual social exclusion because of the group/race they belong to.
so this is not a clear-cut 'everyone's fair game' debate, because the reality is that life isn't equally fair for all peoples, and until that is addressed, the people that are socially excluded (or at risk of exclusion), have every damn right to be offended.

as a white english person, I accept that I have inherited certain benefits in life that are the result of the exploitation of other nations. that is not my fault, but it is a fact and I'm happy to let other less privileged people demand the respect they deserve after centuries of forced assimilation into white culture.

if you have a genuine interest in a culture, do some damn research.
I have found a lot in various native american cultures that I like, but I don't feel the need to dress up in silly costumes to honor those cultures. I do that through my actions, by taking on positive influence from other peoples, to make me a better person. I couldn't care less about 'looking like an indian', whatever that means.

if you think dressing up 'as an indian' is about honoring a culture, you're wrong.
you can't 'dress like AN indian' without resorting to stereotypes. stereotypes which are hurtful to native people because they encourage racist ideas such as the 'indian drunk/brave/squaw/medicine man'; ideas which tell us that native people are either hopelessly stuck in the past, or living miserably in the modern world, which are both reductive ideas and completely untrue.

the fact is, if you resort to perpetuating those stereotypes, you are doing that because otherwise OTHER PEOPLE won't recognise your 'costume'.
therefore, you are not doing it to 'honor native people/your native heritage/etc', you are doing it because it's cool. because other people will appreciate it.
if that wasn't the case, you would make the effort to dress in an authentic, non-offensive costume.

sure, it's cool for us all to have a sense of humor and make fun of each other. maybe we can even make fun of jewish people again now too, never mind that racial stereotyping was the catalyst for the holocaust, it's ok now cos we've apologised, right? we gave them their own country and everything.

if that were even true, it would only serve to illustrate the fact that while the full extent of the indian genocide remains hidden from public knowledge, it's not ok to perpetuate the stereotypes that cause racism against native people. even if some native people can't see that connection, it does exist.
it's not the biggest issue for native people, but where better to start than the root of the problem?

Anonymous said...

Brilliant!!! Your intelligence, wit and eloquence are transfixing. This is such an important message and you do it more than justice. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!!!

Anonymous said...

People have pointed out the many other racial and cultural stereotypes (other than those of POC) repeatedly in this discussion. The fact that people like you - whiny, spoiled adults who act like children - can throw a tantrum when there's NOTHING to get worked up about is a sign of YOUR privilege. As a non-white, I just don't understand people like you; you are in a country that allows you to get an education, work and live just like everyone else. That's still not good enough though, is it? You want to be treated better than everyone else at the expense of others. Do you realize that affirmative action discriminates against poor whites, Indians and East Asians? We actually put in the work and don't demand "special rights" and get screwed over by lazy people who want to live in the past. I guess you won't be satisfied until the minute you throw a hissy fit, everyone rushes to placate you, no matter how ridiculous you are for getting worked up over nothing - like a child who's upset because she didn't get as many presents as her neighbour.

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Anonymous said...

Politically correct people are ruining all the fun in the world. Halloween is a time for dressing up like anything you feel like..open your eyes dear is not just mythical creatures anymore. People dress as other people even (Sarah Palin, Paris Hilton, Snookie + Situation to name a few) they dress up as inanimate objects, they even dress up as food! Dressing as a Native American (or a style that reflects that culture) should be a compliment not an insult. The costumes are beautiful, as is the culture, you can't blame people for wanting to participate in that on the 'one' time of year it's deemed somewhat appropriate =) Maybe it's not PC but they're not doing it to make a joke of your people or their struggles, if anything they're paying homage to it.

Min said...

i compare it to wearing black face, as they call it. especially because we're still unknown to the general population, oppressed in many ways, it maintains the idea that we're mythical and not real, now or historically. america is black and white, with immigrants. there is no mention of us at all. Oprah never did a show on any of our issues that I saw and I looked. She'd rather give away free stuff than talk about the people her country has bled and it's the same with everyone else in the country.

Dressing like a white man has many options, you could be a scot with a kilt, a frenchman, a spaniard, a white wigged english judge etc etc etc, but dressing like a stereotype of a native person is completely not the same at all. maybe if you went as actually figures, like Pauline Johnson or Geronimo.

Nora Flanagan said...

You should re-post this annually. I'm using it in my literature classes tomorrow -- two of whom are concluding a unit on Native American literature, and another class that examines multicultural literature as its main purpose. I'm kind of stunned that people still think this is okay, but it's part and parcel with how gross Halloween is all-around. And as an Irish-American, I do my own wincing and tirading every March. Thanks for a great collection of the worst of the worst, and for your unflinching call-out on this.

Anonymous said...

Americans are visual people.
You want their attention on ANY issue you have to give a visual display of comparison.
If you and say six friends were to dress in white and blue striped pajamas with yellow stars, how would that be received?
Would receive any "cool costume man " or "nice one?"
Not likely.
But would it draw attention?
Assuredly so.
When talk is received as whining, new steps must be taken.

Anonymous said...

I'm of Mexican heritage and I am going to dress up like a Mexican, Dam it! With a big colorful poncho and huge mustache. This is not racism folks.

Anonymous said...

I always thought Marilyn Monroe, Michael Jackson, Cleopatra or even gypsies, police officers, doctors, nurses were real people too! So, why are their Halloween Costumes considered to be ok but Native American is offensive? I got a Native American costume for this year because I love how Native Americans are so close with nature and how pure and beautiful they are. I wanted to portray peace and serenity with my costume but now you are trying to make me believe that I am actually disrespecting your people and I am doing it just to put your people down. So wrong! I am Middle Eastern and I would not be offended if anyone wore a Middle Eastern costume unless if they were carrying a bomb case portraying that they are a terrorist. Please don't make small things into huge problems.

Luxembourg said...

I was never a big fan of MJ. I never owned one of his records. I did really like his videos whenever I saw them on MTV, way back in the 80s. But other than that... Fast forward to 2009. I went to see this movie just because I love music and I was saddened to hear of Michael's passing. Curiosity and remembering that I did like his singing & dancing. WOW, WOW, WOW! As someone said, he was sooo real. We get to see Michael while he was working, you know, just being himself, not "performing" - and what a wonderful, warm, humble, caring human being he showed himself to be. And he never knew that any of us would ever see this video footage. But by us seeing it, I know that he won those of us over, who had never payed attention to his brilliance.

Anonymous said...

WTF? Pocahontas is kind of hot hey!

Anonymous said...

LOL INDIAN COSTUMES FOR DOGS... FOR THE WIN@!@

Anonymous said...

All the picture links are broken. Bummer :c
Great post otherwise though. I just wish I could get the "white witch" joke.

SuperHyuga Yoshi-chan said...

Ugh, there's so much damn derailing and privilege-denying going on here it's disgusting!
The author has a point-Culture isn't a costume. If I saw any of my White friends dressing up as one of Nigerian grandparents for Halloween and doing some stupid stereotypical shit, you better believe that I will side-eye the hell out of that shit.
:(

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Fun.Loving(: said...
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Anonymous said...

I dont think its right how some make fun of white people... Get over it. It's a fucking costume! There not mocking anyone. I have Indian in my blood. It's just a fucking costume people. Come next Halloween just wear plain clothes because you might offend somebody. People are pathetic! They are dressing to show diversity and should be proud somebody wants to ne like you. Look at it positively and get over it fuckin titty babies!

Anonymous said...

I could not agree more

Anonymous said...

So what about those who wear Victorian era clothing during halloween? Halloween does NOT equal dressing up as a character or some fantasy myth. It's really just dressing up in the modern era, and wearing Native American clothing isn't "portraying some character". It's just wearing a Native American costume, which, isn't accurate of course.

Concerned said...

"I always thought Marilyn Monroe, Michael Jackson, Cleopatra or even gypsies, police officers, doctors, nurses were real people too! So, why are their Halloween Costumes considered to be ok but Native American is offensive?"

This whole post oh God yes. I'm Middle Eastern too, oddly enough. agreed 100%.

Aletheia said...

The second Autonomous from 10-24-11 inadvertently illustates the problem. I don't think anyone's saying that people who wear these costumes mean it as a deliberate putdown in most cases. What it generally is, is thoughtless stereotyping. A positive stereotype is still a stereotype. Native Americans are "so close with nature," pure and beautiful, peaceful and serene? Really, every single one of the millions of individuals belonging to hundreds of distinct Native American ethnic groups? Did you know the Aztecs built some pretty impressive cities, or that some anthropologists blame the disappearance of the Mayans on agricultural methods that ultimately left the land unable to produce enough food? How about the many tribes who took pride in their reputation as fierce warriors? And would you believe that all of them had (and continue to have) individual preferences and personalities? Native Americans are gentle souls and selfish jerks, nature lovers and couch potatoes. They're kinda like actual human people that way, you know? I love the "Small World" ride at Disneyland, but let's be real here: most Chinese who aren't students of ancient philosophy don't quote Confucius every fifteen seconds, you won't see many sombreros being worn on a typical day in Mexico City, little Dutch children don't spend all their time frolicking in wooden shoes with tulips clutched in each hand, and Native Americans don't all paint with all the colors of the wind. I even have reason to believe that despite all we've heard about violence and religious intolerance in Middle Eastern culture, there are a few Middle Eastern folks out there who value peace and serenity. Hmmmmmmmm ...

N8 said...
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N8 said...

I'm very confident that no one dressing in a Halloween costume will ever be a sensitive as the group they're depicting wants them to be.

The solution is to simply ignore the howls of injustice. The people who cry tears over insensitive costumes or insensitive mascots enjoy being upset. A rant blog on the subject is a perfect outlet. It's sort of like rage therapy. Just let the rage happen and keep going about your business.

Unknown said...

What is your thoughts on actors portraying history such as the history or discovery channel? What about movies or plays that are designed with historical context and research?

Anonymous said...

Help, I'm drowning in white tears.

Raphael said...

I'm Sicilian American, and I'd say that people dressing up as stereotypical Sicilian-Mafioso "Gangsters" for Halloween is just as common as this. I'm curious as to whether or not you think this is just as offensive given that, generally, people get the attire significantly more accurate than these examples you're showing.

Anonymous said...

what if your an actual Native and you dress up as your culture...hmmm

Beckaluffagus said...
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Beckaluffagus said...
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Beckaluffagus said...
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Beckaluffagus said...

I guess those of you who are saying "doctors don't get offended by people dressing as doctors!" or "british people have bad teeth" aren't realizing that these groups of people weren't oppressed by white people for several decades. White people mocked Native culture, tried to strip them of it, assimilate them to be white, stuck them on reservations. Now we want to take the parts of their culture we find cute and make it our own? I guess none of you are familiar with that, it's called cultural appropriation. We shat on them because of their culture and the color of their skin, THAT is why it's racist of us to try to use it now as a fucking costume. You cannot tell someone who has been shat on by white people that they shouldn't be offended by white people stealing their culture so they can get trashed and beat their chest and dance in a circle. White people dress up in their "war paint" and fringed faux leather and make a mockery of sacred cultures by doing so. The ceremonies that these people pretend to be involved in are sacred to Native Americans, they aren't some party to be mocked by those whose ancestors oppressed them for centuries. We forced them to move onto reservations, where many of these tribes STILL ARE, living in poverty. If you want to "respect" their culture, then learn about it, read about it. Pick up a fucking book. Dressing in stereotypical clothing created by white people isn't respect. Fight to get these people off reservations. Fight for the Lakota tribes to keep their children that are still being taken away from them by WHITE people. It isn't racist to dress up as a white person because white people haven't been oppressed. And as far as the Irish being oppressed by the English, I have seen many a blog demonstrating how shitty it is to mock the Irish for being alcoholics, or pretend to be Irish when you're not. The Irish, however, were eventually accepted as white, even if the English still hate them. The Irish were never oppressed because of their culture, though their culture is still mocked by ignorant Americans. That's not okay either. If you want to respect a culture, then respect the people who are apart of it when they tell you that what you're doing is offensive to them and their culture.

Beckaluffagus said...

For the "if Natives never wore it anyway then why does it matter if I do?" responses: This is why:
http://nativeappropriations.com/2010/04/but-why-cant-i-wear-a-hipster-headdress.html

Unknown said...

Hello, I would love to hear your thoughts - On a whim I decided that this year I wanted to dress as Native American. That decision led me on the topic of NA appropriation. My biggest concern with the way authors are expressing their concerns is the impenetrable wall they are building between NA culture and everyone else. The wall put up will unfortunately impede the very communication that could help resolve the issues you express. If they could find a way embrace this platform and use it as a teaching tool, to not only encourage the celebration of NA culture but to help change peoples opinions, so much more would be achieved. Instead of creating a ban, teach us how you would like to be portrayed not just on a day as silly as halloween, but in our everyday conversations. If I choose to dress up as a NA I am not dressing up as a weak individual who has a historical past of being taken advantage of and who's culture has and continues to be abused, but rather as that powerful fierce warrior who fights for her rights, family and culture (much like how the authors portray themselves). Please tell me how can we talk about/portray you and NA culture in a way that doesn't trigger controversy.

I am very disappointed by all of the articles I have read and am still unsure of what I will wear come tomorrow at 3:00 pm not because I agree with your approach to the situation (see above), but because I don't want to draw unnecessary controversy and violence??? I read an article that supported the violence against those who dress up - that was a good approach to the situation...

Unknown said...
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