Via Kmart.Com
Via Kmart.Com

Happy Halloween Week, everyone!! As much as I love free candy from strangers and the widespread creativity of costuming, Halloween inevitably brings with it a darker reality—and I’m not talking about monsters or ghouls. Unfortunately, Halloween becomes a showcase of Americans’ systemic racism, as displayed through ill-conceived racially fraught costume choices.

Below, I’ve compiled some nice resources to share with undergraduate students (or anyone, really) to facilitate discussions about and dissuasion from, the racist choices so many people make this time of year.

Keep in mind, the most effective form of anti-racist conversation is the one that happens *before* someone has a chance to engage in racist behavior. You get to avoid all of the messy defensiveness.

This list is far from exhaustive, but has some really useful material. Additional suggestions welcome in the comments section

1) Unmasking Racism: Halloween Costuming and Engagement of the Racial Other.This paper, published in Qualitative Sociology by Jennifer C. Mueller, Danielle Dirks, and Leslie Houts Picca is a full length formal sociological treatment of the race-Halloween problem. This is a great reading assignment for undergraduates. You can bring some of the other materials into class discussion

2) An Open Letter to the PocaHotties and Indian Warriors This HalloweenThis is a blog post by Adrienne Keene on Racialicious. It’s a relatively short piece, nice to assign to a class, or share on Facebook/Twitter. The post originally appeared on the Native Appropriations blog.

3) Costume #Fails

This is an excellent Youtube video by Franchesca Ramsey (@Chescaleigh). Be sure to check out the links in the “About” tab of this video.

4) The Difference between Blackface and Whiteface In case anyone tries some reverse racism stuff, you can link them to this short synopsis posted on Racismschool Tumblr of why “Whiteface” isn’t really a thing.

5) Trayvon Martin Blackface and TYT These links pair nicely and together,  are great at preemptively countering the two expected dissents in a race-Halloween conversation:  that racism is no longer an issue in post-racial America, and that the incidents of racism are isolated to single cases of ignorant individuals.

The first link is from a recent Gawker piece, and pertains to a quickly spreading image. Two men pose as Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman on Facebook, the latter is shown shooting the former. This has obvious shock value and makes racism hard to deny.

The second link (TYT) opens to a The Young Turks episode, in which two “progressive” and well established media personalities engage in really really racist and sexist analyses of the race-Halloween costume “debate.” Their privilege shines through in a gross but pedagogically very valuable way.

6)  A montage of Blackface Here is a Youtube video showing a montage of Blackface performances featured in Spike Lee’s film Bamboozled.  This is useful to provide a historical context.

7) Is your Costume Racist?Here is a practical checklist so that people can check themselves before heading out for the night. It’s like the of Halloween.


Follow Jenny on Twitter @Jenny_L_Davis