I've spent much of today reading about racist Halloween costumes, both for people and, yes, pets. Racism in America is certainly not new. But one can still marvel at how insidious it can be, hiding in places as seemingly innocuous as Halloween costumes. So, I figured I'd list a few of my finds.
* "Mexican Man"
This costume amounts to a poncho, a sombrero, and a cartoonishly large black mustache. This is probably the quickest, most lowball racial stereotype imaginable. Add to this the idea that a "Mexican Man" should somehow be frightening. Honestly, on the scare scale, this costume rates somewhere near "Guy from Buffalo." Funny tho, you never see a "Book-Burning Redneck" costume.
This mini-skirted Pocahontas packs a double punch. It's racist AND misogynist. And not so subtly hidden in the name is the sentence, "Poke a hottie." I'd hate to have to explain that one to my 3-year-old daughter.
• "Pup Shalom" dog costume
I'm not even going to bother telling you how much is wrong with this. You can see for yourself by clicking the "pets" link above.
• "Illegal Alien"
Comes complete with: jailhouse orange jumper with Roswell alien mask, and yes, a green card. Which doesn't really make any sense. But the message is hateful nonetheless.
And then there are the run-of-the-mill racist costumes... Geisha Girl, Rapper, Indian Princess, Sheik (with scimitar), and of course Bandito.
I understand that dominant cultures tend not to mock themselves, but rather those they have firmly under their boot heel. You never see "AIG Executive" costumes. But you do still see the occasional "Hobo," which could easily be interpreted as mocking the poor. After all, hobos were most prevalent during the Great Depression, as men roamed the country in search of work.
Next, come the historical cultural costumes (Gladiator, Cleopatra, Greek Goddess, etc.). I'm not sure these qualify as racist, tho they tend to trivialize other cultures. Odd you never see "Disreputable Pakistani Convenience Store Clerk," tho somehow The Simpsons has managed to get away with Apu for decades.
And last, there are a few that were mentioned by other sites, but that I don't think are particularly racist: Samurai and Ninja. I group these with Cowboy and Hitman. They're more occupations than cultural stereotypes. I don't think anyone believes all Japanese people are either Samurai warriors or Ninja assassins. And that WERE true, nobody would be making fun of them. Frankly, both rate far higher on the scare scale than "Mexican Man."
So let's hear your thoughts on this...