Eugene Cho is the senior pastor of Quest Church and the founder of a global poverty initiative called One Day’s Wages. He’s also frequently been a compelling voice for Christians to take the cancer of American racism seriously, and he’s ready to call people out racially insensitive Halloween costumes.
Here’s what he said in full:
So, I know that nearly everyone loves dressing up for Halloween. I get it. It’s fun but in the search for fun, outrageous, and zany…I’ve got an important reminder:
Please don’t dress up in a blackface, yellowface, brownface, redface or any other costumes that stereotype, denigrate, or mock another culture. Why? Because “we’re a culture and not a costume.”
It doesn’t matter if you don’t intend it to be racist. It might not be but it’s certainly racial and generally hurtful. I say generally because every single person that chooses to defend their costumer respond by saying, “I have a ___ friend and he/she is not offended at all. They love it.”
Listen. even if one of your friends of color say they’re not offended does not mean it’s OK because it’s not.
You see, folks usually respond with defensive words or they choose to place the blame on the “other” person. The usual responses are classic examples of power and privilege:
“Why do you have to be a party pooper?”
“You’re too serious. Relax. It’s a costume party!”
“You need to get some thicker skin.”
“This is your issue…your problem.”
As an example, despite the fact that blackface has been offensive since it originated in minstrel shows in the 19th century, some misguided Americans continue covering their face with paint or shoe polish to mimic African-Americans, Latinos, and Asians every year, particularly at Halloween. It’s been nearly a century since D.W. Griffith promoted white supremacy and blackface characters in his film The Birth of a Nation.
“But I’m trying to honor your culture…”
Really? Ok … but if you’re trying to honor someone’s culture, why would you wear it on Halloween? By doing so, you diminish both its value, its importance to its culture, and your personal understanding.
Alright. Have fun and hope you win the costume contest!
You’d think that, by this point, we would know better than to mock other cultures with Halloween costumes, but every year there do seem to be a few woefully insensitive—if not downright insulting—costumes that stereotype other races. Better luck this year.