Halloween: not an excuse for oppression

“Trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat!”

Do kids still sing this? I have a great memory of my brother reciting it at a doorstep and subsequently being denied the offer of candy the rest of us enjoyed. Many people I talk to have nostalgic memories of the anticipation of Halloween night, the fret of finding that perfect costume, the excitement of being out in the dark, staying up past usual bedtimes, the thrill of the growing candy collection, being allowed to indulge in more sweets one generally eats in total for the year, and even the ensuing stomach pain and nausea.

As parents we have a lot of influence over whether kids grow up with nostalgic memories or hurtful ones. Lets keep ALL kids in mind when deciding what our kids can dress up as. Move over sticks and stones, words can hurt. Just the same, a thoughtless, insensitive costume can afflict any amount of emotional pain.

We don’t have any control over what our kids do as adults, but we can influence their adult decisions by what we teach them as kids. Let’s do our very best to not let our kids grow up to be like theseĀ jerks.

It is easy to decide a toddler’s costume and minimally trying to veto a young kid’s request. With a teenager you may get more push-back, but I urge you to take an authoritative role if they are attempting even a questionably offensive costume. And please, oh please, since Halloween is not just for kids, may all parents role model non-offensive costumes themselves.

For guidance, please refer to the links below.

Isha Aran describes several costumes based off of news, events, tragedies of 2016. These are overtly racist, sexist, and/or simply awful ideas.

Melanie Schmitz discusses highly problematic, annually prevalent costumes. Please don’t perpetuate them.

Jaya Saxena gives tips on avoiding racist costumes. Yes, apparently we need a tutorial on how to not be racist. This is a sad truth.

I wish you many treats this Halloween season!

Photo by Juhan Sonin


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