// in which I dare to ask some dangerous questions. //

Warning: This blog post will likely be a little controversial. I’m trying my best to be as thoughtful and compassionate as I can, and to handle this issue with grace, so please forgive me if I fail to do so. I’m not trying to start any heated debates here; I just have some questions and some thoughts that have been on my heart for the past few weeks, ones that I’ve been too scared to voice until now.

What has prompted the end of my silence on this matter?

The ridiculous attitudes towards children’s Halloween costumes that I’ve seen various posts on over the past few days.

Okay. Here we go.

*deep breath*

Apparently, Halloween costumes are the latest source of offense for people. Articles have cautioned people against dressing up as a character with a different ethnic background, because that is cultural appropriation– not, say, mere appreciation of the character and of a culture that’s different than one’s own. Because that’s just ridiculous.

But it gets even better: one article’s headline straight-up says, and I quote, “Little girls should not dress up as Moana this Halloween because it is ‘RACIST’ cultural appropriation’ or Elsa from Frozen because it promotes ‘white beauty’, activists warn”. (Beneath this headline are two photos of little Caucasian girls dressed up as the respective characters.)

I’m not making this up. I wish I was.

So, please correct me if I’m wrong, but to me, what this is saying is that Caucasian girls cannot dress up as a character of a different skin tone, because that is racist– and now they also cannot dress up as a character of their own skin tone, because that is also racist.

So… who can they dress up as, then?

And furthermore, why should their choices in costume be limited due to their skin color?

You wouldn’t tell a little African-American girl that she can’t be whoever she wants to be for Halloween, regardless of skin color or ethnicity, so why on earth would you tell this to any little girl at all? It’s ludicrous, and such double standards are unfair. So why are they being perpetuated? Why are activists for racial equality singling out and limiting the options of young Caucasian girls– girls who aren’t trying to be racist whatsoever, they just like and look up to the character, for goodness’s sake? Is there something about being Caucasian that is inherently tied to racism?

That leads me to a term I’ve heard being tossed around a lot lately: “white privilege”.

So, here’s the thing: I’m not trying to say that I’m not privileged, because I know that in many ways, I am. I was blessed to grow up not wanting for anything– to grow up in Tennessee– to be raised in a Christian home– to have two loving parents– to have all my medical issues cared for– to have opportunities to succeed academically and creatively– to get to attend a Christian college on full scholarship.

I’m privileged. It’s true. There are so many things I’ve never lacked that I am grateful for.

But how are any of the ways I listed caused by the fact that I am Caucasian?

They’re not. Any and all of these things can be the same for a girl of any skin tone. You can say I’m privileged due to any of these things, and I’ll readily agree with you– but this is not “white privilege”.

So what is “white privilege”, then, and how do I have it? (I would genuinely like to know, if anyone can explain any misconceptions listed here to me.) Is it due to the fact that I might be treated better by others due to my shade of melanin? (I haven’t noticed any of that sort of treatment personally, but that isn’t to say that it’s never happened to me.) If so, then I am truly sorry that people have such small hearts that they would treat me differently than another on racist grounds… but other people’s treatment of me is something that I have no control over, so how can that be my fault? How is it that their actions mean that I am the privileged one?

News flash: I don’t have control over the color of my skin any more than anyone else does.

To claim that I am inherently privileged because I am Caucasian is to judge me by the color of my skin and not the content of my character. Sound familiar?

But shouldn’t that be the whole point of racial equality: to see beyond outward appearances and to focus on what truly shows who a person is, their hearts?

Because that’s what the Lord looks at: our hearts. We are all equal in the eyes of God. Guess what? We’re all a bunch of broken sinners in need of a Savior. There’s no getting around that. At the end of the day, your skin color, your cultural identity, your physical appearance– none of it matters in light of eternity. Each person who is a follower of Christ has a ton of spiritual brothers and sisters from all sorts of backgrounds, from all over the world, and we are united in Christ and it is absolutely beautiful. In the kingdom of heaven, there is no division– no racism– no privilege– no appropriation. We are one race: the human race. And this is how it should be.

I think the main question that I would like to ask is this: If equality is truly the goal of those who are calling for an end to racism, then why is there continued attention given to division, strife, and all the ways in which certain groups are terrible, racist humans?

Emphasizing the divide only further worsens it.

True equality cannot be achieved so long as people groups are still being put down.

Retaliation does nothing to fix the original problem.

If you really, truly desire equality for all races?

Start with recognizing that we are one race under God. Start with the message of the Gospel– that all have sinned and fallen short (Romans 3:23), that Christ died for all (2 Corinthians 5:15), that God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son for us, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). Start with the realization that social justice begins at the Cross, because that is the only place where true equality can be found.

The only way we’re really, truly going to begin treating everyone with equality and respect is to start loving people like Jesus. To start viewing humans the way God does, looking past physical qualities and into their hearts. To start knowing people by their character rather than their ethnicity. To start sticking up for everyone, to start uplifting every group instead of trying to tear certain ones down on the basis of past wounds. To start listening, really listening, to what people who are different than us have to say. To start believing in the worth and value and beauty of every single human on this planet, because we are all made uniquely and beautifully in the image of God, and everyone deserves to be respected as such.

(And, for goodness’s sake, let’s let all the little girls dress up as whoever the heck they want to be for Halloween without dragging suspected racism into it, yeah?)

When we view the Imago dei in its proper light– when identity is found in Christ alone– when we are a million colors and voices, unified in our love of Christ and our kingdom citizenship?

That, my friends, is when racism ends and true equality begins.

And it is an absolutely beautiful sight to get a glimpse of here on earth in the lives of believers. Heaven’s going to be even better, and I don’t know about you, but I cannot wait to praise Jesus with everyone for eternity.

It’s like the lyrics of one of the loveliest songs say:

“It’s the song of the redeemed
Rising from the African plain
It’s the song of the forgiven
Drowning out the Amazon rain

The song of Asian believers
Filled with God’s holy fire
It’s every tribe, every tongue, every nation
A love song born of a grateful choir

It’s all God’s children singing
Glory, glory, hallelujah
He reigns, He reigns
It’s all God’s children singing
Glory, glory, hallelujah
He reigns, He reigns

Let it rise about the four winds
Caught up in the heavenly sound
Let praises echo from the towers of cathedrals
To the faithful gathered underground

Of all the songs sung from the dawn of creation
Some were meant to persist
Of all the bells rung from a thousand steeples
None rings truer than this

And all the powers of darkness
Tremble at what they’ve just heard
‘Cause all the powers of darkness
Can’t drown out a single word

When all God’s children sing out
Glory, glory, hallelujah
He reigns, He reigns
All God’s people singing
Glory, glory, hallelujah
He reigns, He reigns”

// Newsboys, “He Reigns” (emphasis mine) //

Let’s keep this eternal perspective in the midst of the strife and division that’s plaguing our country today, yeah?

Thanks for reading, and thanks also for not wanting to rip my head off after doing so. (Hopefully.) And Happy Halloween/Reformation Day/Socially Acceptable Cosplay Day!

Love always, Em

// “you couldn’t tie me down to anything / and that’s enough for me.” //

{Or, why we should really stop trying to fit people into boxes.}


“I don’t do well if I’m kept behind / an office desk inside, it makes me lose my mind…”


“…which wanders endlessly, where all the birds fly freely / with their silhouettes in perfect symmetry…”

Someone recently told a friend of mine that she “didn’t look like she knew much about __________ [fill in the blank with anything intellectual and/or geeky, as you please].” My friend was a little affronted by this (and rightfully so), because since when do your looks indicate what you’re interested in and knowledgeable about?

But no, clearly girls with natural beauty and charm who enjoy dressing vintage-classy can’t possibly be interested in superheroes and sci-fi. Don’t be ridiculous, Em. How dare you ignore societal rules and stereotypes!

See, my friend was being placed in a box labeled “pretty, classy, and sweet”– and then the person who attributed that label to her made the mistake of figuring that was all there was to her.

But no, this dear friend of mine with the biggest heart, a charming smile, and a love of all things vintage and lovely? She’s actually one of the most mischievous and rebellious humans I’ve ever met. She gets herself (and usually the rest of us) into about as many scrapes as the Anne Shirleys and Jo Marches of literature renown (perhaps even more than they do). And she absolutely adores Marvel and Star Wars, and could sit you down and talk in-depth with you about those movies– and characters– and actors– for hours. And even this is just the barest sketch of who she is.

She cannot be placed into a neat little box– and the rest of us can’t, either.

Humans are so incredibly complex and beautiful, guys. And sure, we try to make sense of who we are by sticking labels on ourselves and others, we try to identify with various things that give us a sense of connectedness and belonging– INFJ, introvert, Hufflepuff, dreamer, writer, Tennesseean, fangirl, psychology major, Christian— and this can be a good thing to a certain extent, but I think we too often fall into knowing people only by those labels. And then we begin to ascribe certain characteristics of those labels to that person, and when that person breaks out of the box that we’ve subconsciously placed them in, we have the audacity to be surprised by the fact that this human is actually as complex and seemingly self-contradictory as we ourselves are.

There’s a reason we get a little indignant when we realize that people have been trying to fit us into a box: It’s because we are all so much more than that. We were made to break the mold– to defy the stereotypes– to be unpredictable every now and then.

We were not created to fit into neat little boxes. How can a light shine in a dark world when it’s confined to societal packaging?

When you first began to follow Christ, you were called to be a light– to shine so brightly that you point the world to our Savior.

Light cannot help but stand out. It can’t help but illuminate the whole of the space it inhabits. It can’t help but break through the darkness.

Be light. Be unpredictable. Be free. Be wholly and authentically you, with all the interests and quirks and thoughts and dreams that make up who you are as a human– and extend the same grace to others when you look at them.

Let’s stop placing people (and ourselves) in boxes they (we) were never made to fit into, yeah?

“…I’ve got a pocketful of poetry / I’ve got a head full of songs, a heart with wings / You couldn’t tie me down to anything, and that’s enough for me.”

// Pocketful of Poetry, by Mindy Gledhill //

{love always, Em}