Cultural Appropriation

Yes, White Kids Can Dress Up As Black Panther for Halloween

"The idea that only black kids would wear Black Panther costumes is insane to me."


Black Panther
Screenshot via Marvel

Every year, Halloween prompts much handwringing over cultural appropriation and whether it's okay to let kids dress up as fictional characters who belong to other cultures. In 2017, I wrote about a mom who didn't want her little girl to be Disney's Princess Moana.

This year, it's Black Panther. People's Jen Juneau warned white parents to "think twice" before dressing their sons up as T'Challa, king of the fictional African country of Wakanda, or any of his retainers. Activist mother Steph Montgomery overruled her 8-year-old son's decision to trick-or-treat as Black Panther, writing, "Maybe, in a future where there are more black superheroes, I might feel differently, but for now my answer stands." (Her son eventually decided to be the dinosaur Yoshi, which Montgomery is "totally okay with," even though Yoshi was created by a Japanese company.)

Thankfully, some of the people involved in the creation of Black Panther don't see things the same way.

"The idea that only black kids would wear Black Panther costumes is insane to me," Reg Hudlin, a filmmaker who worked on the animated Black Panther TV series, told The Washington Post.

And Ruth Carter, a costume designer who helped craft Black Panther's clothing, said,"If we don't embrace other cultures and let other ethnicities embrace ours, then we're hypocrites."

That's exactly right. Kids of various ethnicities all wanting to celebrate the coolness of Black Panther should count as a much-needed win for tolerance and diversity. By all means, go trick-or-treating as T'Challa.