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October 8, 2020
By Beatrice Alvarez
It's almost Halloween. Honestly, some of us start planning for Halloween earlier in the year (no judgment here), but much of the decision-making happens now in the weeks leading up to the big night. And that means we need to talk now about how some costumes might seem like a great idea, but they can be hurtful to others because they are a form of cultural appropriation. Costumes should be fun and beyond that, trying on another identity can be a healthy mental exercise.
Remember that PBS has 50 years of awesome characters to inspire costumes that will make people smile. The Molly of Denali producers knew this so they offered their suggestion for a costume. We can think of a few more: Julia Child, Fred Rogers, or Bob Ross. The list goes on, but we'll wait and see what you come up with this year. We have eyes on a tricorn hat for a Poldark-inspired costume.
Let's acknowledge each other's cultures. Yes, there are ways to honor them and appreciate them. But what is the difference between appreciating someone's culture and co-opting it? This episode of What I Hear When You Say lays it out with clear present-day examples.
How do we choose costumes? Why do we choose certain costumes? For some, the personality assumed in a costume represents something aspirational. Now think about how the self-confidence of a character can linger even after you take the costume off. As this episode of Off Book shows, Halloween is but one night of costume play (often referred to as cosplay) but the positive effects can last beyond October 31st.
Ever thought about wearing your costume not on Halloween? Do it! It's called cosplay (a combination of the words costume play) and be a part of a thriving community. Bring your creative A-game, especially if you visit Atlanta, Georgia's top-notch makers and role-players. Get a view of the scene in this special from ATL PBA - Public Broadcasting Atlanta and be inspired to create your own secret identity.
Learn more about cultural appropriation (or is it appreciation?) before you finalize this year's Halloween costume.
Watch a collection of films and specials that highlight and add context to the many aspects of race and racism in our country.
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