Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Kids, Go Ahead and Appropriate

Let’s all just agree that Halloween is a holiday, mainly for kids, to dress up as someone or something they are not. And they go house to house, getting treats, presumptively to prevent them from doing tricks—which their good parents would never allow them to actually do—and as a reward for the clever costumes, even if said costumes are hidden under winter coats that weren’t even needed a week ago.

That’s really it. Scary stuff may get added in as they get older. But, as grandson Little Political Sphere 2 told me this weekend, “Grandma, your decorations aren’t really scary; they’re funny.” Yes, they are. Which is really the point.

The ghosts around our house aren't very scary.

There may be historical references to nefarious things surrounding Halloween. But that isn’t what’s going on these days. Grown-ups might go in for scarier movies and other really creepy things. But for kids, Halloween is about costumes, candy, and fun.

It is not about solving adult social problems. It is not about prejudices, bigotry, racism, or something supposedly offensive called “cultural appropriation.”

Whatever happened to the axiom, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”?

Instead, little kids get accused of being insensitive, and microagressive.

Here’s a clue: You know you’re in the wrong, if you’re accusing five-year-olds of purposely offending you with a Halloween costume.

There’s another new word I discovered in reading about the evils of culturally appropriative Halloween costumes: woke. In the urban dictionary, it means being culturally aware and sensitive. Or, as the urban dictionary sarcastically adds,

state of perceived intellectual superiority one gains by reading The Huffington Post.
Ali is so woke. At brunch she explained how wearing anything other than Chuck Taylor's or Tom's is really a microaggression. Hey did you get your Amy Schumer tickets yet?
How does this apply to our un-woke little munchkins? (Can I say that—or is it insensitive to the littler-than-American inhabitants of the place Dorothy landed, which was not in Kansas anymore?)
It implies that if your child dresses up like a Disney princess from some other time and place, they are being hateful. So, no little Jasmines. No little Tianas, No Moanas. No Elenas of Avalor. No Mulans—although there seems to be less complaint about pretending to be Asian, since they’re already at the top of the class in America.

However, if your little girl is Caucasian, like her parents, she shouldn’t dress up as Frozen Queen Elsa either. As feminist blogger/complainer Sachi Feris, who runs the site Raising Race Conscious Children, says,

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.
Really? If a little girl dresses up as a fictional character she admires—one from a fictional land that seems Scandinavian—then she’s dissing all the other types of beauty? Maybe she just loves the movie Frozen, because of the story and the beautiful music and other things that make it worth re-watching endlessly. Maybe it has little to nothing to do with the hair and eye color of the character, or worse, assuming that is the only kind of beauty.

Let’s just agree that inculcating little kids to be woke is a misuse of their childhood.

There was a clip of an interview, from our local Fox news station, talking seriously about the cultural appropriation “problem.”

The woman who takes it seriously could easily have said the very same things, in the same way, as a parody. She loses all credibility when she complains about Americans celebrating Cinco de Mayo. They wear sombreros and celebrate Mexican culture—how dare they! That holiday, though, if you weren’t aware, isn’t a Mexican holiday celebrated by immigrants here; it’s an unofficial American holiday with the purpose of celebrating Mexican culture, because of our many Mexican immigrants. She’s upset that the holiday accomplishes its purpose.

I suggest this: If you’re feeling offended with behavior that is not intended to offend, you have a problem; you need to fix yourself in order to function within civilization.

If you’re feeling guilty because you’re accused of offensive behavior when no offense was intended, do not genuflect to the offended, giving them incentive to continue being offended. 

Do not apologize for something you did not do, which was offend. Instead, do something socially appropriate. Try laughing, without derision toward the person, but clearly disarming the accusation. Point out the absurdity of labeling little children as racists for dressing up as a princess, or a Native American, or an ancient Egyptian, or any other costume representing something they are not. That is, after all, what a costume is—pretending to be someone or something you’re not. Trying it out for the day. For fun.

When it’s no longer Halloween, it’s still a good idea to dis-empower the offended.

Go ahead and do what you want with your hair—braids, cornrows, or dreadlocks included. Wear the earrings you want. Hoop earrings, for example, have been pretty mainstream, off and on trend, at least since the 1960s, without having any race or ethnicity attached. The same for Nehru jackets, or Asian inspired dresses. Or harem pants. Or dirndls. Or any other in-or-out-of-fashion statement that may have been “inspired by” some ethnicity.

And go ahead and decorate your home with things you love from whatever culture. It’s how we express appreciation for various cultural details. The more we love and appreciate about various cultures, the more we understand one another, accept one another, and get along in harmony.

We miss out on those benefits if we get our hands slapped every time we try to take something from a different culture into our melting pot lives. So let’s just stop letting those hand slappers get away with being offended by our appreciating one another.

No comments:

Post a Comment