The folks over at the blog Raising Race Conscious Children are making Halloween less enjoyable and, in fact, shameful for little kids who just want to dress up like their favorite characters.
In an article last month, blogger Sachi Feris described her hesitation when her five-year-old daughter expressed interest in dressing like Elsa from Disney’s Frozen for Halloween this year. Feris’s problem is that Elsa is a white princess and she was afraid her daughter would be perpetuating whiteness as the standard of beauty. She told her daughter:
“There is one thing I don’t like about the character of Elsa. I feel like because Elsa is a White princess, and we see so many White princesses, her character sends the message that you have to be a certain way to be ‘beautiful’ or to be a ‘princess’…that you have to have White skin, long, blonde hair, and blue eyes. And I don’t like that message. You are White, like Elsa — if you dressed up as a character like Moana, who has brown skin, you would never change your skin color. But I’m not sure I like the idea of you changing your hair color to dress up as Elsa — because I think Elsa’s character could also be a short, brown-haired character like you.”
But her daughter wanted to look just like Elsa, not some different form, much to her mother’s chagrin, and so, she requested the long, blonde braid — just like it is in the movie.
“We can do that,” Feris agreed. “When we are dressing up as a made-up character who is White, it is OK to change how your hair looks, but I just want you to know that if you wanted to, you could dress up as Elsa and not change your hair.”
Feris’s daughter already has plans for Halloween 2018 — she wants to dress like the Polynesian princess, Moana. Uh, oh. Big problem. The young girl saw her mom scrolling through her smartphone and asked what she was doing. Feris answered:
“I’m trying to find more information about if a (White) person can dress up as another person’s culture in a way that honors the culture, without making fun of the culture or using the culture in a way that uses stereotypes or makes people who identify with that culture feel uncomfortable.”
Again, Feris tried to steer her daughter in a different direction; one that wouldn’t culturally appropriate brown skin that she didn’t have. Instead, she suggested the girl dress up as “Moana’s sister” and embody qualities such as “bravery, strength, love of family, and caring for the environment.” But the daughter just wanted to be the “real Moana.” What little girl wouldn't?
Unsatisfied, Feris didn't budge and told her daughter:
"Anyway, I don’t like the idea of dressing up using the same traditional clothing that someone from Moana’s culture may have worn because that feels like we are laughing at her culture by making it a costume. A child whose family is Polynesian could dress up using that type of traditional clothing but Moana’s culture is not our culture. If you want you could dress up as someone from one of your cultures, you could be a tango dancer from Argentina…(or as Che Guevara!). Otherwise, maybe you could be a modern-day Moana and dress up in the clothing you think Moana might wear today.”
An island princess is problematic, but dressing a five-year-old as a mass-murdering totalitarian is all the rage among leftists.
Getting nowhere with her downer of a mother, Feris’s daughter thought it better to just scrap the whole Moana idea and just go as Mickey Mouse next year. (Thanks, mom.)
The Raising Race Conscious Children blog offered the following advice on how to have a white supremacist-free Halloween:
- White parents who want to dismantle White supremacy have a special burden to check their entitlement on Halloween—and make sure that their children’s costume choices are not reinforcing a culture of racism.
- Dressing up as a White person (from the dominant culture of power and privilege) is not cultural appropriation—but consider the development of children’s healthy racial identities on Halloween.
- Halloween is an opportunity to have a conversation with your child about race, power, and privilege.
Or, you can just let your kids be kids, dress however they want, and come back with a pillow case fully of candy. It’s worked out well for decades, why ruin it?