Halloween is one of the most fun and appealing holidays in the United States. On this spooky night full of terror and mischief, people of all ages can find something to celebrate. Children get to go door-to-door, receiving king-size candy bars from the coolest people around and raisins from people who hate fun and whimsy. Horror movie fans enjoy watching their favorite scary movies in darkened rooms, while others still take the opportunity to dress up, go out and party with family and friends. Jack-o-lanterns are carved and lit up, and eerie ghost tours are shared by guides to frightened participants. There is something for everyone on this holiday, whether you’re a child, an introvert, a party animal, or anything else. Halloween is truly a holiday for everyone, one that all Americans can enjoy, so it’s no surprise that some killjoy administrators are trying to ruin it for students everywhere.
Yes, apparently this beloved, fun, and ultimately inconsequential holiday is now political. Halloween is my second favorite holiday behind Independence Day, and upon seeing yet another cultural aspect of our country politicized for no reason, like sports, television, comedy, and so many others, I have completely run out of patience. In East Lansing, Michigan, the school district has canceled Halloween celebrations under the pretense of “equity and inclusion.” In a school in Seattle, Washington, they too canceled their Halloween celebrations for “marginalizing people of color.” Even in my home state of Massachusetts, Melrose Public Schools have canceled their celebrations in school to “foster inclusion.”
The three schools and school districts gave broadly similar reasons behind their decisions, and they are all fairly easily debunked or dismissed. The first is the idea that these celebrations distract from learning. Surprising no one, the modern American education system is a failure, as I briefly touched upon in my last article. One day of celebration isn’t going to make our beloved children fall behind other students around the globe, leave them unprepared for life ahead, or make them less intelligent than previous generations. The school system is doing that just fine already. Don’t worry teachers; I’m sure one less day of you peddling propaganda to literal children won’t miraculously turn them into free thinkers. We wouldn’t want that, now would we?
The next reason given is that some children are “frightened” by Halloween costumes. Forgive me, but aren’t scares and frights half the point of Halloween? I understand that some children may be scared by a costume, but at the end of the day, it’s just a costume. Real-life Michael Myers isn’t actually there, ready to pin you against a wall with an impossibly long kitchen knife. Am I too old school for suggesting that these kids simply toughen up? There’s no reason that the vast majority should have their harmless fun taken away by a minuscule minority who can’t differentiate between reality and fantasy.
One of the most pressing reasons they suggested also had to do with costumes, but this time, it revolved around the idea that some children get upset that they don’t have as exciting of a costume as other kids, if any costume at all. I can sympathize with this position. In this hyper-consumerist culture of ours, having the best products can often be a signifier of our worth in society. However, this is absurd. Perhaps these educators should instead teach our children to not value products so much and instead see value in themselves as individual human beings?
Furthermore, this whole line of reasoning relies on the premise that the best costumes are the ludicrously expensive ones, but this is simply untrue. Wit and cleverness can serve as excellent replacements for expensive costumes, and as a personal anecdote, I did just that throughout all my years in middle school. In fact, I didn’t spend a single dime on any of my costumes. In sixth grade, I wore my regular clothes, made a picket sign, and voila: “Nudist on Strike.” In seventh grade, I put a self-adhesive bow on my head and suddenly, I was “God’s Gift to Women.” Finally, in eighth grade, I wore a raggedy old beanie, cut a hole in a trash bag and wore it like a poncho, and, just like that, I became “White Trash.”
The last reason was the most baffling to me, as all of these schools or school districts either insinuated or outright stated that racial minorities, “specifically African-American males,” don’t celebrate Halloween. Speaking personally, all of my Black friends celebrate Halloween and love the holiday. I can also say from experience that every time I see a horror movie in a theater, the vast majority of attendees are African-American. Of course, I’m not going to assume that my anecdotal experiences are reflective of a broader cultural reality. To that end, I did some research into the topic.
While I did find that African-Americans were the most likely to not celebrate Halloween, it was only a slightly higher percentage than of the general U.S. population that also does not celebrate the holiday. Overall, Halloween is a very popular holiday in the United States that the vast majority of Black Americans celebrate. The only thing I could find regarding any sort of strong Black dislike of the holiday was from a very, shall I say, “out there” blog called Momentum, which had a couple of articles railing against All Hallows’ Eve. There just isn’t any evidence to suggest that Halloween celebrations aren’t inclusive, nor are they universally disliked by Black Americans.
Just about every other negative article regarding this most spooky of nights was about people wearing culturally insensitive costumes, like wearing blackface or dressing up as a Native American. It is interesting that those kinds of costumes aren’t tolerated for being offensive stereotypes, yet after three minutes of quick Google searches, I found plenty of highly stereotypical and offensive costumes. The difference is, these are all for European cultures, so no one cares if they’re absurdly racist, such as Russian woman, German man, Frenchman, or my favorite, Italian man. Stereotyping is a problem everyone faces. Either all of them should be acceptable, or none of them should be. We can’t just pick and choose what stereotypes we think are socially acceptable.
So please, to the school administrators making the decision to launch a “War on Halloween,” just stop. Your solution in search of a problem is so emblematic of the useless nature of your jobs, where you are constantly trying to justify your own existence by creating problems and then “solving” them. There is nothing divisive or unjust about this fun little holiday that most Americans love to celebrate. Stop manufacturing division among the children you supposedly teach and among the communities to whom you are serving. I hope everyone has a fun and exciting Halloween; let’s keep this inclusive and mass-appealing cultural tradition alive, and let’s give these power-tripping administrators a real fright!