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Thursday, December 12, 2013

My Race is Not a Costume

Editor's Note: this post was originally published on October 29, 2013 to address the issue of racism in Halloween costumes.  Given Katy Perry's recent AMA performance which spurred numerous media sites to ask the question, "was it racist?" we're re-publishing Mila's important post to answer that question.

By Mila

With Halloween just around the corner, as your friendly neighborhood Asian, I'd like to say something--Hey, [mostly White] people, my race is not a costume.

Just because it's Halloween does not mean it's okay to run around in Blackface or Yellowface or to dress up as an "Indian" or whatever other ways you want to fetishize, objectify, and denigrate the reality and viability of someone's racial identity and culture.

Sure, you can accuse me of being hypersensitive or being a tightwad, but seeing White women and little White girls "dressed up" as "me" for Halloween alongside zombies and monsters and other fictional or freakish characters is a bit humiliating and just makes me feel plain weird. There's something about seeing White folks "dress up" as an "Asian woman" for Halloween that just ain't right. It's demeaning and objectifying. I'm not some make-believe doll here for your entertainment.

I'm a real person.