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Let white kids dress as Black Panther, for crying out loud





David Rauzi

Oh, the days. Halloween night is the only time it’s universally accepted to beg strangers for handouts. And it’s a fun time for kids to play dress-up and be someone or something else for this exciting evening.

Yes, and then adults put their social politics baggage into the mix and screw up yet another fun time.

It’s less than three weeks until all the zombies, superheroes and princesses go roaming about, but the harping starts way earlier than this about what you should and shouldn’t have your child dressed in to go trick or treating.

Specifically, beware of cultural appropriation, defined in part as the adoption or use of elements of one culture by members of a different culture.

Now, what we’d think the offensive behavior in such appropriation would be is where – intentionally or otherwise — it is inappropriate to the situation, mocking or disrespectful or maliciously derogatory to the culture in question. So, for an obvious example, the ceremonious attire of the Nez Perce Tribe is appropriate for a pow-wow, not for tramping about getting candy.

But, a time spent Googling across the net will find plenty of handwringing over white kids costuming in person-of-color (POC) characters as Black Panther or Moana, for example. This, apparently, is offensive and should not be allowed.

Really? Shouldn’t that instead be a moment of quiet victory in our efforts against prejudice that our kids see past color and just want to identify with these fictional persons who demonstrate positive character traits for themselves and their cultures?

It’s appropriate that we are aware of and respect POC concerns in how their traditional and cultural symbols and dress are used, and that this discussion is part of the ongoing training and nurturing we provide our children.

But, for crying out loud, let kids dream, imagine and be inspired; let them have their fun.


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