Who knew trick or treating could be racist?

We’re not at everyone is wearing white sheets level, but it’s ugly

The former guy, rotting.

Halloween and trick or treating – a simple childhood pleasure, right?

And yet, my neighborhood association has turned it into something racist and classist.

It’s not intentional (I don’t think). It’s not like they said, “How can we be awful people in how we do trick or treating?”

But that’s the result.

The way trick or treating works in this city is the city designates official trick or treat time, which I think is absolutely nuts – trick or treating should happen on the night of October 31. That’s not complicated. Trick or treating should happen on Halloween.

But the city decided it would be better to have trick or treating on a Sunday afternoon. So they designate the Sunday closest to Halloween as the official trick or treat time – and they make it during daylight.

Sure, it’s safer for the kids to be out during daylight, but other than that, there is no benefit to an afternoon, not usually October 31, event.

(Plus there can be a Packers game in the afternoon, which means nobody is going to answer the door.)

My neighborhood association feels the same way I do about afternoon trick or treating. So they did something about it.

Unfortunately, they did the wrong thing.

Rather than appeal to the city to right the wrong of afternoon trick or treating, they set up their own trick or treating on a specific night.

It’s a big deal – people have bonfires and parties and it looks like a lot of fun.

But to participate, you have to be a member of the neighborhood association.

Which means living here and paying a membership fee.

And you have to register your children to trick or treat, which requires (I think) more money.

The kids get little wands or glowsticks or something to show that they are paid, legitimate, One of Us trick or treaters.

People who register to give away candy (yes, you have to register to do that as well) get some sort of sticker to put in their window so kids know where to go.

In short:

  • There is a Designated Neighborhood Night of Trick or Treating
  • You have to be a paid member of the neighborhood association to participate
  • Children get a special magic decoder ring so people know it’s OK to give them candy.

When I lived in Memphis, I was surprised to see children who did not live in my neighborhood show up at my door on Halloween. I was a bit cranky about it and said something to a friend, who set me straight.

“It’s maybe not safe for them to trick or treat where they live. Why not be kind?”

I was so ashamed when I thought about what she said. She was right – I was annoyed because people weren’t playing by the rules, rules I had created in my head. What was so bad about giving candy to little children?

It’s not that the kids who don’t live in our neighborhood can’t trick or treat here – they do. Only they come on the official designated trick or treat time – the Sunday afternoon. They do not come during the neighborhood event, which is the fun one.

And they are the only ones trick or treating. All the neighborhood kids have already done their trick or treating.

Some people still give out candy to those kids, but many do not.

It’s a sad sight: only a few forlorn kids, going door to door, with many people not answering, in the middle of the afternoon.

When I suggested (on Facebook) to a member of my city council that we change how the city does Halloween, explaining that the neighborhood parties seemed exclusionary and racist, she blocked me.

7 thoughts on “Who knew trick or treating could be racist?

  1. Why does everything have to be about race, class, or gender with observers giving every comment or activity the most offensive possible interpretation? Do you really think it’s necessarily “racist” and “exclusionary” for a neighborhood association to hold an event for members on a different day from some activity designated by some local government? Or are you just reading your own biases into other people’s innocently intended actions?


  2. Well, Goldie, of course she blocked you! No one on City Counsel wants to be reminded that they are racist. Next thing she knows you will be railing against the School Board banning all of Toni Morrison’s books, or claiming that Black Lives Matter. It is a very,, very, very sad fact that folks – many of them actually well-meaning – are so mired in their privilege that they don’t even know it’s there. It’s never occurred to them that what’s right for THEIR (white) kids might not be best for all those OTHERS. (Apparently in elementary schools here in Virginia, we teach second graders that that’s Critical Racial Theory.)

    For Pete’s sake (I wonder who Pete was? do you know?), we moved DST back three weeks so that it would a tiny bit lighter for trick or treaters on Halloween – you know, the one on 10/31.

    Here’s an alternative idea: How about it parents actually went T-oT’ing with their kids to make sure they stayed safe? Wow! Radical.

    Hope you have lots of candy in case someone shows up tonight!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh my. I had no idea you lived in an all-white neighborhood. Or are non-white residents disallowed from joining in the community festivities? Please, do explain how a neighborhood association sponsored activity for people living in the neighborhood is racist. Am I to believe that your middle class neighborhood is devoid of POC, or that the ones who live there are too poor to pay the fees associated with the event? Who is the racist here?


  4. Well, I guess we know which commentors are buddies of that city councilor. I hear you though, I used to get annoyed about “not our kids” showing up or “the wrong ones” (you know, like teenagers wearing a hat and their costume is “me, wearing a hat”) until I realized – we have plenty, who cares? Charging money for the privilege of getting free candy from your neighbours – who may also have paid for the privilege of giving candy away? wth? – sure does exemplify capitalism though, doesn’t it?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I guess we know who the Kendi/Di’Angelo style “anti-racists” are. Me, I’m old school and don’t judge people by immutable physical characteristics or make sweeping generalizations about groups of people. To my mind, the fundamental racist belief is that there are more differences between groups than between individuals. Seems as though many of you instead find Ibram X Kendi’s definition appealing. The anti-racist guru says that racism is defined as “ A collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity that are substantiated by racist ideas”.

      If you can’t detect the appallingly obvious flaw in that “definition” then I don’t even know what to say. Maybe call your alma mater and demand reimbursement of your tuition?

      Definitions matter.. Calling a thing racist without defining what racism IS, is lazy AF.

      A neighborhood event excludes those not living in the neighborhood, not by race. If only white families were allowed to participate, that would indeed be a racist policy. I very much doubt that was the case. But, you know the old saying “Give a middle aged white-woman a copy of White Fragility and everything looks like racism.” Or was it “Give a two year old a hammer and everything looks like a nail”? Gosh, I do get those mixed up…


  5. too tired to write much – just got back from a research trip. But yes – this kind of thing helps reinforce the us vs “them” attitude prevalent in so many places. Guess I’m too woke 🙂 – but fwiw I think you’re dead on target about things like this.


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