My son as ParaNorman – one of my favourite costumes of his. Imaginative, fun and not racist at all.
There was an article in the weekend Star, an opinion piece by Kate Jaimet entitled: Fight for our rights against Halloween ethno-police.
I was confused and bugged as to why the editors of The Star decided to pass this off as a legitimate opinion piece (okay I guess it was her opinion).
I wrote a letter to the editor. It didn’t get published. Another one did that said much the same as mine. Also, a column by Emma Teitel was published about how Halloween has become the most offensive day of the year. In her piece, Teitel touched on the tasteless attire worn by school kids and included the Native princess along with Anne Frank and Bill Cosby.
Today there is another article by Jonathon Forani, featuring a woman’s shock at the amount of racist costumes for sale at Party City. Forani looks at different sides of the issue but primarily focuses on the need to recognize that culture isn’t a costume.
One letter sent to the Star asks what is wrong with dressing up as Anne Frank for Halloween (label pinned onto her blouse included). Another describes Emma Teitel’s frustration and anger with inappropriateness, insensitivity and racism as “moral panic”.
Oh the hysteria of recognizing a wrong.
Forani’s article touches on the ethno-police idea brought up initially by Jaimet. That old gem: darn political correctness stopping people from having their freedom of expression, be it insensitive or worse.
Forani cites this as a cultural conversation that is not going away. I agree that it is not going away. But it isn’t a cultural conversation. It is a ludicrous and embarrassing conversation and it should have ended long ago.
Reading how people want to hang on to the right to dress up as a dream catcher girl or Harvey Weinstein reminds me of a toddler being told to eat her vegetables because they are good for her, yet she refuses because she doesn’t like brussels sprouts. Or maybe it’s more like a toddler who won’t take his medicine even if it will make him better, because he doesn’t like the taste of it.
My letter below:
There was nothing wrong in telling Kate Jaimet’s preschool daughter that her Native princess costume was offensive.
Remember that slogan from 2011: We’re a culture, not a costume. Why is this still an issue?
A beautiful geisha or a beautiful gypsy costume would also be offensive, or let’s just say wrong.
This falls on the heels of the pile of angry letters sent to The Star when the TDSB announced they would be using the term ‘manager’ now instead of ‘chief’. Why would this change outrage people?
Why would Kate Jaimet find a need to “fight back” against a desire to take these outfits out of the Halloween costume aisle?
Any white girl dressing up as a Native princess is not seeing herself as an actual Native princess. Hang on – is “Native princess” even a term? She is seeing herself as a walking version of Disney’s Pocahontas. That’s not culturally sensitive. That’s not using our imaginations. There is also a reason there are no white children dressing up as Indian or Nigerian princesses.
My personal preference is to go back to making Halloween about scary costumes: Buzzards and wizards and zombies and owls.
Wearing another culture’s traditional dress as a costume is in itself putting it into a tiny ethnic box as a “costume option”.
This is not an intellectual movement confining each of us; this is a movement to see beyond our own dopey and tasteless choices. Let’s stop being so slow on the uptake.