Halloween – Through a Diversity Lens

1 Nov

It’s been a long time since I handed out Halloween candy, and even longer since I went out trick or treating.  But my re-entry into the sugary costumed world last night has me thinking.

Of the many children who showed up at the door, I would say only about 50% were costumed. I remember teenagers (barely) dressing up and walking around with pillowcases, trying to score some free candy back in the 80s. But these were small kids.

It gave us something to talk about while we waited for the next knock on the door.
We wondered if some of the kids were new to Canada and that perhaps they (and their parents) didn’t “get” what Halloween was all about. I had two little girls at the door with no costume, no ‘trick or treat’ or ‘Happy Halloween’ – in fact they said absolutely nothing as they stood there and held out their bags. To me, they looked like this was the last thing they wanted to be doing.

Hmmm…what this suggests is that the classrooms they were in during the day yesterday perhaps didn’t do a good job of preparing them and explaining the way Halloween works.   If you can sit in a classroom on October 31st and still leave without a clue as to what Halloween is all about, something is amiss.  Quite possibly no one thought of explaining it –  we often take for granted that people “get” these “obvious” things. It may also be that the kids in question didn’t feel comfortable asking. Ah, another example of the difference between diversity (who is there) and inclusion (that they are engaged).  I’m speculating of course, but this sort of oversight happens more often, in more places, than we care to imagine.

Then there was Ralph, who was dressed up as himself (jeans and a GAP sweatshirt). He had to sing a song for the candy. (“I’m Ralph and I love candy” he sang as he danced around. I had to give him some candy for that!) And the vampire who “forgot to buy her fangs”. That one was priceless.

But joking aside, there is the reality that for some families money is tight, and a Halloween costume could be seen as a costly extravagance. What about the Dollar Store? one could argue. But socioeconomic status affects more than your pocketbook. Being “poor” or “low income” also impacts your access, how you choose (or don’t choose) to spend you time, and the things that are on your radar (to name a few). Depending on where the Dollar Store is, what time parents or guardians get home, how they feel when they get there, etc etc can make what we may see as a simple trip an arduous exercise. Plus we all remember not having the “cool” costume and the ramifications of that in Grade School. Perhaps it’s better not to have one at all than risk the potential ridicule.

All to say that as irking as it may to give candy to kids without costumes, there are many factors that could be the root of this issue.

See more.

copyright 2012 Annemarie Shrouder
Author, speaker and facilitator on issues of Diversity and Inclusion>
www.beeing.ca

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