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Published On: Fri, Oct 28th, 2011

Halloween, Culture and Bad Costume Ideas

From CNN.com:

“Thinking about donning a kimono to dress like a geisha for Halloween, or a Mexican mariachi suit?

Students from Ohio University have a message for you: “We’re a culture, not a costume.”

With ethnic and racial stereotypes becoming increasingly popular Halloween costume themes, members of the school’s Students Teaching About Racism in Society are launching a campaign to make revelers think twice before reducing a culture to a caricature, the group’s president said.

Posters from the campaign are expected to go up on the Athens, Ohio, campus Wednesday. Meanwhile, the images are making the rounds online, raising debate over whether it’s ever OK for people to paint their faces black, impersonate a racial stereotype for fun, and where to drawn the line.

It’s a seasonal point of controversy, but even after widely publicized controversies such as the “Ghetto Fab” wig at Kohl’s and Target’s illegal alien jumpsuit, costumes of stereotypes abound. On Google’s shopping section, several pages of Mexican costume ideas are available, from gauchos and “Mexican donkey costumes” to sexy serapes and tequila shooter girls.

The ad campaign from Ohio University show students holding photos of different racial and ethnic stereotypes in costume: an Hispanic guy with a picture of the Mexican donkey costume, an Asian girl with an image of a Geisha, a Muslim student with a photo of a white guy wearing a traditional ghutra and iqal over his head, bombs strapped to his chest.

“During Halloween, we see offensive costumes. We don’t like it, we don’t appreciate it. We wanted to do a campaign about it saying, ‘Hey, think about this. It’s offensive,'” said senior Sarah Williams, president of STARS.

“The best way to get rid of stereotypes and racism is to have a discussion and raise awareness, which is what we want to do with this campaign,” said Williams, who is black and plans on dressing as singer Janelle Monae for Halloween.

The most obvious offense occurs when someone who’s not black decides to go blackface, because of the historical context, she said. But the message applies to all races and stereotypes — and not just during Halloween.

The dean of students fully supported the campaign, calling it a “clean, succinct” way of delivering an important message.

“We’ve always tried to get a handle on what it means to be thoughtful and appropriate when it comes to talking to students about choosing costumes and making the best decisions for celebrating Halloween,” Ryan Lombardi said.

“I think it’s a clean way of raising awareness of how the costumes you choose might be offensive. In many cases, students aren’t doing it maliciously, but they might not realize the consequences of their actions on others.”

If you’re thinking about dressing up as someone from another culture for Halloween, please reconsider. It may not be as funny as you think.

Trick-or-Treat, witch

US Federal Government – public domain


Scott Crocker

I grew up near Detroit and graduated from Central Michigan University. I’m married to my beautiful wife, Lori, and am blessed with four great kids. I am currently the National Director of Field Programs for The Impact Movement, a ministry committed to producing Christian leaders of African descent. I enjoy exploring the role that faith plays in the issues of everyday life.

Crocker Chronicle

Thoughts on the intersection of race, religion, politics, ministry, sports and culture.

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