I approach the Halloween holiday each year with a great deal of trepidation, waiting for the other shoe to drop on whatever culturally inappropriate or customized racist costume will make headlines — like the picture a student at Cedarcrest High School in Washington state posted on social media last year of a student dressed up as a police officer resting his knee on the neck of another student costumed in an orange jumpsuit.

This kind of revolting incident is an annual occurrence carried out by people who claim not to know the harm and others who should have known better.

As a kid, I was blissfully unaware of the hurtful stereotyping in costumes. My parents protected me — taking me to carefully planned parties only with kids I knew or shepherding me through certain vetted neighborhoods. It worked. I have only fun memories of tromping around ringing doorbells, and grabbing candy while adults oohed and ahhed over my costume.

But, as I got older, I became all too familiar with Halloween celebrants, including celebrities, who think it’s all in good fun to blacken their faces (I’m looking at you dancer/performer Julianne Hough). I do know that some people are drawn to tasteless costumes, like the Jeffrey Dahmer Halloween costume. The costume kit based on cannibal and serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer drew considerable attention, interest sparked by Netflix’s wildly popular series chronicling his horrific crimes. EBay shut down the costume purchases last week saying the sales violated its policy against listings that “promote or glorify violence or violent acts.”

Everybody is always properly appalled when they learn about that kind of offensive Halloween costume, but less offended it seems when Native American tribal clothing, Mexican sombreros and blackened faces are used as costumes. In 2015 Black students led protests then Yale lecturer Erika Christakis wrote an email arguing for students to wear any kind of costume, even if “a little bit inappropriate or provocative or yes, offensive?”

Right about now many of you are saying, "For goodness' sake, can’t the kids have a fun holiday without you dragging race into it?" That’s just not my lived experience. About 70% of Americans will actively take part in 2022 Halloween activities. I know some of them will see the current viciously divisive discourse as the perfect backdrop to put their racism or cultural appropriation on display.

Our skin color and cultural clothing are not costumes. And I’ve seen clever, nonoffensive costumes parodying everybody from Barack Obama to Bad Bunny. There is Halloween fun to be had — just not at the expense of people of color. I’d like to enjoy a Halloween holiday with nothing more distressing than a sugar rush from candy corn.