Halloween no excuse for racism, ignorance

Halloween is just a week away, and this year, I’m going to dress up like a white person. But wait, won’t that be kind of offensive? I mean, most of the real-life white people I know don’t even actually like mayonnaise.

A white-person costume sounds pretty stupid, doesn’t it? Absurd, really. But costumes of any minority are totally cool. Super funny. Not awkward at all. Unless, of course, you’re the minority. In that case, you’re kind of like, “What the hell? Do you know any Asians who walk around in kimonos?”

In the parade of trendy movie character costumes and sexy (insert small animals here) outfits, there is always that one guy who decided it would be funny to be another race for the night, based on every stereotype in the book.

That guy is why I’m glad for Students Teaching About Racism in Society, the force behind one of the best campaigns I’ve ever seen.

STARS, a student organization at Ohio University, created a series of posters just in time for Halloween. In one, a Latino man holds up a picture of a white guy wearing a handlebar mustache, sombrero and poncho. There’s a stuffed donkey attached to the front, so that he looks like he’s riding it. Similar posters feature an Asian woman, a black woman, an Arab man and a Native American man. Across the top of each poster, the text says, “We’re a culture, not a costume. This is not who I am, and this is not okay.”

Finally. The “we’re not a costume” campaign may be timed for Halloween, but it’s a reaction to an attitude that’s accepted every day as normal.

It’s hard to explain exactly what is so wrong about being a geisha or a sheik for Halloween. It’s unsettling. It’s a feeling I’ve always struggled to articulate — a discomfort that sort of just sits in the place between your heart and your stomach, quietly nagging. It’s a sense of being wronged without knowing exactly what was done to you.

People who think racism is dead think so because they don’t see active discrimination. They think, “But minorities are allowed to do everything I’m allowed to do, so where’s the harm?” STARS’ poster campaign calls attention to another problem: Minorities are often made into caricatures.

And that’s why Ohio University’s Students Teaching About Racism in Society exists. STARS aims to “educate and facilitate discussion about racism and to promote racial harmony and to create a safe, non-threatening environment to allow participants to feel comfortable to express their feelings.”

STARS exists because racism is only playing dead. It manifests itself not in slurs and exclusion, but in stupid jokes and really inaccurate costumes. As a minority, you’re a character, not a person. People dress up as you on Halloween. On TV, you’re the token black guy, easily replaced by some other black guy after one season.

Racism is so much stealthier now. It doesn’t announce itself, and it’s complicated.

I eat a lot of rice. I’m an aggressive driver. My parents wish I were studying engineering. Sometimes the stereotypes are actually true, and it can be really funny when they are. But I’m also terrible at math and I never learned how to play the piano or the violin. Stereotypes aren’t my entire identity, and it’s definitely not funny or clever when people suggest they are.

You have to think twice about racism, about the little things that don’t seem like they should matter but do, like your Halloween costume.

The “we’re not a costume” posters make an impact because they finally say what should be said all the time and never is: Stop buying into stereotypes. Stop making me a parody of myself. This is not who I am, and this is not OK.

— Kristina Bui is the copy chief. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.


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DRH
(12/31/69 5:00pm)
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Suddenly, I am overcome with the urge to dress up as the Frito Bandito this year.

Guys & girls – halloween is just bit of fun. Dead guys don’t come back to life and eat people. There are no hot blonde lady cops in tiny uniforms that demand to “frisk” you. Kimonos are OK even if “asians” don’t wear them on a daily basis.

Sheesh.


Anon
(12/31/69 5:00pm)
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There are white people stereotype costumes. Don’t pretend like there aren’t. Also how about a movement against slutty Halloween costumes because those are pretty sexist. No? No movement? People wouldn’t take it seriously enough, but as soon as someone pulls the race card it’s in the headlines.


pete
(12/31/69 5:00pm)
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Nobody is flooding and “integrating” black nations and ONLY black nations with non-blacks and calling native blacks evil racists for opposing their replacement. This is happening in white nations and ONLY in white nations. They say they are antiracist. What they are is antiwhite. Antiracist is a code word for antiwhite. And what they want is genocide.


Jenny
(12/31/69 5:00pm)
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“Anon” said at 0958 on 24th Oct that no one is having a movement against slutty halloween costumes, which are pretty sexist, and I recommend that Anon, and anyone else who thinks that there is no such campaign, have a look at sites like Jezebel which do, in fact, campaign on the unacceptability of “sexy” Halloween costumes.


Sierra
(12/31/69 5:00pm)
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@Anon there actually is a movement against stupid sexy halloween costumes. But this really shouldn’t be about people of color vs. women.


SC
(12/31/69 5:00pm)
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I’m baffled that there are still people out there who think it’s OK to put on blackface or drape yourself in racist stereotypical Mexican/Native American/etc garb and call it a “bit of fun.” It’s racist, plain and simple. Please stop whining about how people take things too seriously or play the race card when you are told to stop being a racist jerk. Just stop being a racist jerk instead.


Valkyrie
(12/31/69 5:00pm)
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Those hateful, ignorant, and close-minded Deltas! They completely misrepresented the prestige of the Romans. How dare they tarnish the toga.

Take a breath and get a grip people. If you can’t make fun of yourself, and you’re too scared to make fun of others, then be prepared to lead a life of misery and grumpiness. But hey, at least you’ll have your political correctness to keep you company.


Sean
(12/31/69 5:00pm)
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Great article, I don’t live in AZ but with all the racist crap taking place there. I would never want to live there.

Of course people are going to say “It’s Halloween” people are just having fun. Usually it’s white people who are saying that, why because white people are the ones dressing up in racist and offensive costumes.

Kristina, I think you should dress up as a white person, maybe I should also dress up as white trailer meth trash and have scars all over my face, then have a girl with me and act like she’s my incest sister. Or maybe I can dress up as a Honkey Red Neck. Of course I am not going to because those are stupid costumes and I prefer costumes where I look hot.

Great article!!!! Glad you spoke up!!!


Bryan
(12/31/69 5:00pm)
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This is a great article! KUDOS!

We also wanted to spread the word at www.RedAlertLive.com and show that it is not right to wear racist costumes here is the link: Truth: Racist Halloween CostumesYou Should Not Wear! http://bit.ly/vK9Gdc


Jason
(12/31/69 5:00pm)
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Is there a poster with an Italian-American on there? Or is it still perfectly OK to dress up as a “guido”? Just curious.


Joao
(12/31/69 5:00pm)
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You’ve never seen a guido, redneck, or hipster costume?


Shannon 2011
(12/31/69 5:00pm)
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Anyone can have a problem with any costume

What about men those dress up as women characters? Is that sexist?

Or people that dress up like fat people? Is that too judgemental?
OR women that want to dress like sultry characters? Is that a problem with women being allowed to act too freely?

Or any religious figures? I guess Ghost/Sprits, gods or goddess, Greeks, witches, Egyptian kings, mummy’s, devils, angles are out of the questions. It is a sin in some religions to portray “mythic creatures”?
Therefore all demons, fairies, vampires, werewolves, monsters or elves are also out.

Or political figures? Or is that a whole world of controversy on its own?

How about dressing like a KD box? Oh that’s way too commercial or industry driven which only encourages the exploitation of the developing world. (Rolling my eyes)

Costumes don’t make a person who they are. If you are a racist, you are one before you put a costume on, not after. Halloween costumes are fictional or are play up symbolic character. A CHARACTER is not a race. People are becoming too sensitive and are sucking the life out of a night of dress up.


Serg
(12/31/69 5:00pm)
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Look I think this person has taken political correctness too far. This holiday is like all other holidays just for fun and enjoyment with our friends and family. I as a Hispanic laugh at costumes like because if you can’t laugh at yourself you won’t survive in this world. The writer of this article was that person in class that asked the stupid question that had no reason to. It seems that some white people have begun to self hate. That if they point out rascism it some how makes them better. It doesn’t it actually comes out as shallow and that is waht this article was SHALLOW.


Scandanavian
(12/31/69 5:00pm)
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As a person of Norwegian and German decent, I don’t feel it is an insult to my heritage when someone dresses in lederhosen or viking horns (which we all know the vikings never wore). People dress as blonde bimbos, irish monks, dutch farmers, and british guards. They all look stupid, but that’s the point. When I was in college, my filipino roommate dressed up like me, and I dressed up like him. We both looked like idiots, but we had a lot of laughs and none of it had anything to do with a disrespect for anyone’s culture.


Bobby Hill
(12/31/69 5:00pm)
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Any reason why it should be OK to name a restaurant, “Gringos”? Or how about the CRACKER Barrel?

Apparently it’s OK to use derogatory names against white people. Sounds like a…double standard to me.


Kyle
(12/31/69 5:00pm)
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You have a right to be offended, and I have a right not to care. Street goes both ways kiddos.


Camilla
(12/31/69 5:00pm)
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I agree that Halloween is a night of fun, I love it. But I also think it’s one thing to go as a “character” and it’s another thing to go as a “stereotype”. Last year when I was a vampire, my roommate asked if I owned big gold hooped earrings because she was going to a Ghetto Fabulous themed party. Much to her dismay, I told her that despite the fact that I’m black I don’t own such jewelry. And several people attending that party also went in “black face” and when asked what their costume was they said “gangsta”, or “homie” or just plain “ghetto”. There is no reason for this in my opinion. Flavor Flav, Lil Wayne, and Rick Ross are CHARACTERS. Painting your face black and then saying “Hey everyone I’m ghetto” is not.


BK
(12/31/69 5:00pm)
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I’m tired of people being oversensitive and skewin the facts to suit their own percieved injustice. Do I think there are insensitive costumes out there? Yes. Do I think that every costume depicting an ethnic group is offensive? No way. PLease also be aware that there IS actually a white stereotype out there…the white trash hick? ever see a mullet wig???


Maryam
(12/31/69 5:00pm)
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I’m black & Native- how about I dress up like a “cracker” and wear shoes with various minorities (maybe dolls?) underneath them?

It’s sad how dear your racist mockeries are that you can’t see a “good” Halloween without them.
Yet if the tables were turned it would be an outrage from you.

Too bad you have white privilige preventing you from being able to go two miles UNDER anothers shoes.

Hush. Please.


PC Party
(12/31/69 5:00pm)
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@Sean

I would find that absolutely hilarious.

Geishas exist. Thugs/Gangbangers exist. Sheiks exist. Idian chiefs exist. White-trash meth heads exist.
So they’re all fair game for costumes on a holiday where you dress up as something you aren’t.

It must be miserable to wake up every day looking for something to find offensive, and to have such shallow mental depth that you find racism in every aspect of society.


Catsgirl03
(12/31/69 5:00pm)
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Shannon, Scandanavian, and Camilla have hit the nail on the head! Yes, going as a ghetto thug, or just a mexican can be offensive. But Middle Eastern people who strap bombs to their chest exist and just because you choose that as your costume does not mean you are then representing the entire Middle Eastern culture that night! You are dressing as something, a character, no different than if I’d chosen to dress as a dog. What does this say about movies and tv? No more geishas, thugs, minorities, fantasies, etc!! I agree that some are not thinking when they choose their costumes and some are racist, but you can not call me racist for dressing as something that actually exists!! Awareness is great, glad it is being put out there, but it’s not a complete message really. Doesn’t capture the real problem. People who are racist are not waiting around for Halloween to express their hatred for a race. They express this everyday, so I would think the emphasis would be on everyday racism, then Halloween, that one day a year, won’t even be an issue!! Have a fun and safe Halloween everyone!


MHart
(12/31/69 5:00pm)
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Blackface isnt “fun”. It was a minstrel show was a sad time of American History. Thomas Dartmouth wasn’t funny or cute when he was dancing/singing Jump Jim Crow. It has nothing to do with this whole idea of “you can’t laugh at yourself” it is just racist.


zrodfx
(12/31/69 5:00pm)
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Please don’t allow your child to dress like Barney, because, you know, like, dinosaurs have feelings too.
However, you can , like, you know, dress like , white trailer trash all day long, because, you know, like, it’s ahhh,…….white.


@ Kristina the Author
(12/31/69 5:00pm)
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The problem with stereotypes is that they only become racist when hatred becomes involved. Racism is such a buzz word these days, but the real danger is reverse racism… imagining that everybody else is racist.

If you can’t laugh at your own self sometimes, than your not living!


zrodfx
(12/31/69 5:00pm)
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Herman Cain for president…..and if you don’t agree, you are a racist and a bigot !!!