I remember being about eight years old, and the movie of the year was Pocahontas. When Halloween rolled around that year—well, you can guess what I wanted to be. I begged my mom for the costume, and she made time amidst raising us four kids and homeschooling us all to sew a Pocahontas costume for me. It didn’t matter that it was freezing cold outside (as most Minnesota Octobers are) and that I had to wear a coat over it; I was so proud of that costume.
And yeah, I’m white. Oops.
But we’ll get to that in a second.
After that Halloween, I was so intrigued by this Pocahontas character—especially when I learned that she had been a real person. After the movie came out, I remember my mom incorporating books about the young princess into our homeschool curriculum, and I poured over stories about her, the Powhatan tribe, and her father—the chief called Wahunsenacawh. To this day if I see the movie (which I just introduced to my own daughter this last week) I think of the many things I learned about the real Pocahontas as a result of that Halloween.
But how dare my mother allow me to culturally appropriate the Powhatan Indians in that way. How dare she.
My mother—according to the author of Cosmo’s latest cultural offering “Maybe Don’t Dress Your Kid Up As Moana This Halloween”—was responsible for teaching me how not to be “racially insensitive.” And she failed miserably, apparently.
After all, a white mother letting her white daughter don a Pocahontas costume for the completely innocuous purpose of asking friends and neighbors for candy on a holiday that originated in the church (uh oh, shoot—that’s probably bad too) was exactly what this author is begging 21st century parents like myself NOT to do.
For the record, my two year old loves animals and she’s going as a flamingo this year. But recently she sat on the couch with us glued to the TV as the gorgeous colors of Moana’s animation flashed across the screen; she loved it. And why shouldn’t she? It’s a cute film, and when she gets older she might realize that it’s a story about a brave little girl who faced the odds to save her family and her entire village. (You know, female empowerment and all that stuff.) She might also, like her mother was with Pocahontas, be so intrigued by the story that she’ll want to learn more about Polynesian folklore.
She might even—gasp—ask to dress up like Moana one of these years.
Yet the author of the aforementioned piece thinks that letting my daughter do that would be the height of awful. Because, after all, my daughter is half “white”—whatever the heck that means anymore (see below, DNA testing). The author writes:
“To pretend to be a racial, ethnic, or religious minority when you’re not makes light of their history — and reinforces a deeply problematic power dynamic, wherein white people use, then discard, pieces of cultures they’ve subjugated for centuries just because they can.”
In other words, dressing up like a favorite Disney character that happens to be an “ethnic minority” is tantamount to looking pictures of KKK cross burnings and lynchings, and laughing. Maybe with a bowl of popcorn on the side, too.
Because yes, donning a Moana costume if you’re not Polynesian or a Tiana costume if you’re not black is mockery.
And when I explain to my kid that thanks to her genes and the freaking color of her skin she can’t play-act a Disney character, and my child is understandably taken aback—never fear. The author has a culturally appropriate solution for that, too:
“If your Caucasian son or daughter doesn’t get to be exactly what they wanted for Halloween, encourage them to take a step back and realize that they’re awash in privileges that the real Moanas and Tianas of the world will likely never see, because the world is full of racist assholes.”
By the way, this is the same crowd that tells us we’d better let a little boy dress up like a Disney princess OR ELSE. This is the same crowd that celebrates women running around in public dressed as female genitalia. This is the same crowd that cracks up over a comedian dressing up like Donald Trump’s executioner, complete with severed head. This is the same crowd that’ll punish a first grader for using a biologically correct pronoun towards a child who has decided not to be what he or she was genetically born as.
But yes, tell me more about how a little white girl dressing up like Moana is a racist scourge on society.
Ok. Whoever you are (because apparently you don’t have the guts to put your name on this piece and instead write under the banner of “Redbook Editors”), you can believe whatever you want. You go ahead and live in that segregated world you seem to long for—and let me address the rest of you people out there:
Parents, thanks to people exactly like this author, our children are being taught to divide our nation even more. This kind of ridiculous politically correct pearl-clutching over a kid’s Halloween costume is forcing our children to look at race above ALL things; above talent, above character, above personality—above everything.
It’s a ridiculous comparison but these people have forced my hand: how is this any different than the ethnic purity that has throughout history claimed the lives of millions? While the author obviously isn’t calling for ethnic cleansing through bloodshed, how is this ideologically different than any ruling race/class/whatever that decided that they needed to keep things “pure”?
Again, I realize the author’s not calling for the ethnic elimination of so-called “white” people. But he, she—whoever this is—is calling for everyone to stay in their lane. Don’t mix with other races. Don’t contaminate another race with your whiteness. EWWW.
Don’t celebrate anything that doesn’t belong exclusively to YOUR race. (And even then, be aware that even those things that “belong” to “your” race—like Elsa from Frozen—“might reinforce notions of white privilege.” Translation: white kids, stay the heck home this Halloween. Maybe force feed yourselves canned spinach while watching other children trick-or-treat for candy; maybe flog yourselves in penance while you’re at it, too.)
The whole concept of “Cultural Appropriation” (read: stay in your own lane, white people) is a disease. And buying into this hogwash only spreads it further.
For fun recently, members of our family took one of those DNA tests; the ones that trace your lineage back to different geographic areas of the world. To the author of the Moana piece, we’re as white as the wind driven snow. But take a minute to dig into the genetics, and suddenly a colorful and far-reaching picture emerges: we look “white,” but in addition to so-called northern European roots, we’re rooted in Iberian and Middle Eastern cultures as well.
My point is this: we’re everything. We all are. And anyone who tries to sit there and pretend like any one single person is one single “race” is a science-denying narrow minded ethnic purist who actually hates diversity. FACT.
Parents, this author wants you to believe that by restricting what you kid can and can’t pretend to be on Halloween based on race, you’re helping to raise a new generation of non-a**holes.
No. You’ll be helping to raise racist a**holes who see NOTHING beyond a person’s race. Yeah, solid plan. Seems like that kind of thinking sort of perpetuates racism—but then again I’m white and probably not “woke” enough to know what I’m talking about.
By telling your kid that they’re a little racist-in-training because they like Moana so much they want to dress like her for Halloween, you’re perpetuating the LIE that we need to keep our races separate.
It’s as simple as that.
Don’t listen to this junk. Don’t teach your kids to be racist a**holes in the name of political correctness and racial penance.
Teach them to celebrate the cool things about all races and ethnicities. And sure—they can do that by dressing up on Halloween.
Mary Ramirez is a full-time writer, creator of www.afuturefree.com (a political commentary blog), and contributor to The Chris Salcedo Show Worldwide. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org; or on Twitter: @AFutureFree