Halloween is coming up in a couple of weeks, and Tar Heels are planning their costumes for one of our town’s favorite nights of debauchery. With this comes a slough of culturally appropriative garb — blackface and sombreros and headdresses, oh my! People of color everywhere are already eye rolling in anticipation.
So, we thought we’d put together this list to help guide you through the insensitive costumes that you should definitely leave on the shelf.
1. Pocahontas and John Smith, or literally anything with a headdress
It’s bad enough that “Columbus Day” (Indigenous Peoples' Day) falls only a couple weeks prior to Halloween. Let’s not add insult to injury by making an equally lazy and offensive costume choice. You’re celebrating Halloween on stolen land, folks. That said, the least you can do is leave all feathers, beads, “tribal” face paint, dream catchers and arrowheads out of your wardrobe.
2. Día de los Muertos, sombreros or a mariachi
Let’s be honest — “Coco” slapped. We literally cry every time “Recuérdame” comes on at the end of the movie. But like, that movie was great because it gave more context to a Mexican tradition that most people either didn’t understand or thought was on-par with Halloween. Día de los Muertos is about ancestral reverence and celebration, not an opportunity for you to dress like a Latinx skeleton. Also, mariachi is a legitimate genre of music with its own cultural significance. Sombreros and maracas will be snatched if necessary. If you, John, Steve, Mark and Chad want to be musicians, y’all can be the Backstreet Boys.
3. A Rastafarian, Voodoo queen or witch doctor
First things first, if it involves a dreadlock wig, you can go ahead and scrap it. Across cultures, dreadlocks are believed to have spiritual power and significance, and are not simply a hairstyle. Also, Voodoo is a religious practice that is gravely misunderstood by Western populations like ours. Just because you watched “American Horror Story: Coven”, and thought that Angela Bassett was that bitch (which she was) does not make you an expert on Voodoo or give you permission to impersonate someone who is an actual practitioner.