Friday, October 29, 2010

Halloween Costumes for Brown Boys and Girls

Happy Almost Halloween,

So what are your kids going to be? My boys are dressing up as Robin Hood (the six-year old) and a Roman/Grecian gladiator/half-blood/demi-god (the nine-year old). They look so cute in their costumes, but I have to admit, we had to have a few conversations about race as it related to their choices. (sigh)

So, the older kid wanted to be Percy Jackson, as in Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief book series. We saw the movie and now he's read all the books. To top it off, he's studying Greek Myths at school. But his first thought was, I can't be Percy Jackson because I'm too dark. (double sigh).

I told him that yes, Percy Jackson himself was White but many gladiators were brown and black as they came from all over the world. He was fine with that. And honestly, this wasn't a big drawn out conversation fraught with tears and angst. But it did happen. And then the older child suggested I rip the patch with little White Peter Pan off little brother's costume, because well, little brother could be Peter Pan if people weren't reminded of that cartoon-ish White face.

So, I'm just curious. Do your kids of color feel the need to dress up as characters of color on Halloween? Do you parents try to suggest costumes that would be race neutral, like a princess or a race-car driver or a ninja? I honestly only started thinking about this this year, as my boys have gotten older and want to dress up as characters that they like/watch/read about. It sure was easier when my older son was a fireman, and the younger son was his pet dalmatian. Those were the days.

Enjoy Halloween Meltingpot readers. Don't eat too much candy!



Lovelyn said...

I have no kids to dress up, but growing up my mother never tried to influence what we dressed up as. I was every thing from a guillotine to Indira Ghandi (my mother had a sari that was used as a back-up Halloween costume every year). I remember even dressing up as Cinderella one year. I think you should just let your kids dress up as whatever they want regardless of race.

LT said...


I totally agree and would NEVER tell them they couldn't be something because they don't "look the part." Heck I was Sherlock Holmes three years in a row. Gender bending and race bending. Not a problem. Just commenting on the conversation and wondering if anyone else handled it differently.

lifeexplorerdiscovery said...

this makes me think back to when I was in preschool and my mom let me dress up as barbie...I loved it until the preschool costume party, that is when I started to feel awkward because here I am a biracial girl with a white barbie mask (for some reason they didn't have any black barbie costume) in a see of white girls with barbie costumes...i stood out.

I have dressed as a witch, dancer, and the I Dream of Jeannie uniform and the Scream mask, but at some point I quit halloween because I hate dressing up.

If I ever had kids, I'd let them dress up however they want to but I am going to strongly discourage anything that is a caucasian mask (unless the kid looks white that is). If there is no black alternative mask-wise, then it is not a good idea. But other than that, if they want to dress up as a black cinderella (well, Brandy did do it herself right?) then it is fine by me as long as she doesn't ask for a blonde wig or something otherwise I am going to have to strongly push Princess Tiana on her.

I probably won't even have kids so who knows...

JBH said...

I haven't suggested race-neutral costumes, because somehow they choose them on their own. Lord Voldemort (grey facepaint), Yoda (green mask), KISS rocker a la Gene Simmons (again, white paint with black), SCREAM (mask, again). Rapper (one child claimed Eminem, the other didn't claim an identity). one year they were ninjas - but, again, with masks that didn't show racial identities.

I'm the one that uses my Japanese yukata as a "back-up" costume. This year, my adult friend told me "That's not a costume - it's who you are!" Had to laugh at that one - he was right!

Anonymous said...

this is why multicultural societies CAN'T work.

Tracy said...

Anonymous, you're a jerk. I've had this problem growing up. I grew up in a very small white town, and one year I dressed up as a Sailor Moon character, and the kids at school were jerks. They said I couldn't be Sailor Mars because my skin is brown. But there were brunettes in my class who put on blonde wigs. I don't see what the difference is? The idea of Halloween is to dress up, and you can be whoever you want to be. Your CHOICE! Don't let anyone else tell you that you can't participate because of the colour of your skin.