The question as to why stores are continuing to sell culturally inappropriate costumes today is simply that; why? Should a business really risk taking the chance at offending one, several or hundreds of people so they can make an extra dollar?
Spirit Halloween, a seasonal pop-up store that sells costumes, make-up, props and other related items, has decided that they will not be removing the allegedly racist and inappropriate indigenous costumes from their shelves this year.
“Since 1983, at Spirit Halloween, we have offered a wide and balanced range of Halloween costumes that are inspired by, celebrate and appreciate numerous cultures, make believe themes and literary figures,” a spokesperson from the company said in a statement to CBC News last week.
“We have not directed any of our Spirit Halloween stores to remove indigenous-themed costumes from our shelves, nor do we plan to have these costumes removed.”
The chain has been accused of selling cultural inappropriate in the past; costumes such as “Indian Princess”, “Reservation Royalty” and “Indian Warrior” are just some that are and have been available.
At a Spirit Halloween store in Regina last week, individuals who are standing against cultural inappropriate costumes placed warning labels on the costumes’ packaging suggesting that customers avoid contact with the materials inside. Staff at the store later removed the labels.
“We do not tolerate the act of defacing our products, regardless of the theme or culture represented,” a spokesperson from the store said in a statement last Tuesday.
The CBC said that Spirit Halloween refused to release sales details that would indicate how popular an item the costumes are at its stores.
When choosing a Halloween costume this year, here are some questions to ask yourself to help ensure you are not committing misappropriation:
- Is your costume racially, ethnically, or culturally based?
If it is, then it’s probably racist or straddling a very thin line of racism.
- Do you belong to that group of people?
If you don’t, remember that you can’t just borrow someone else’s culture or race for a day.
- Is your costume funny or sexy?
A harsh majority of humorous or erotic costumes are of marginalized and oppressed groups of people and can be deemed inappropriate.
- Would you wear that costume around that group of people?
If a Muslim family were to welcome you into their home, would you wear your Arab Terrorist costume? What about wearing your Geisha costume within a group Japanese friends?