This Halloween, white parents — who were once enthusiastic about their kid embracing a black superhero costume — are starting to think twice.
Understandably, kids are flocking to grab costumes from one of Marvel’s highest grossing superhero films of all time, “Black Panther,” in the Halloween aisles of Walmart and Target.
But after discussion of cultural appropriation, some parents are questioning — should a kid who is white dress up as a Black Panther for Halloween?
According to the New York Times, the significance of the movie extends beyond entertainment for black children.
The Black Panther character has a long, rich history of eliciting feelings pride and strength for people of African descent. The blockbuster hit depicts a fictional African nation, Wakanda, untouched by colonization, and an African hero who safeguards the utopia.
Some argue that because the superhero movie has such a special resonance for black kids, it’s important that children are able to celebrate their racial identity through the superhero.
Brigitte Vittrup, an early childhood professor at Texas Woman’s University, told the Times:
“As parents, or even as the people creating costumes, we need to be very aware of what that says.
There’s not a whole lot of black superheroes, so this is a really important thing, especially for black kids growing up.”
“White people have the privilege of not constantly being reminded of their race in the United States, where white is the majority, whereas as a black person you don’t.”
However, others confessed to feeling divided about whether or not white children should dress up as a black character from the film. Katrina Jones of Vimeo said:
“I’m actually wondering now what it might be like for that parent who’s not of color if his kid comes home and says, ‘I want to dress up like Black Panther.’”
“When I look at it, I see no reason why a kid who’s not black can’t dress like Black Panther. Just like our kid who’s not white dresses up like Captain America. I think the beautiful thing about comics is they do transcend race in a lot of ways.”
Many readers echoed Jones’ sentiment and took to the article’s comment section to praise parents who saw superheroes as colorless.
Others had a different view. One commenter thought the whole idea seemed questionable:
Dear White People: Yes, Black Panther came to cinemas in February so yes, this Halloween will be prime time for BP costumes. PLEASE NOTE: There ARE White characters in BP for you. I don’t wanna see any bald headed a** white women talmbout they the Dora Milaje.
Best regards, Me.
“This Is Us” actor, Sterling K. Brown, who plays a character in the film, told People that he “can’t wait to see little white kids dressing up as Black Panther.”