‘We’re a culture, not a costume’: Students launch poster campaign against ‘racist’ Halloween costumes
By DAMIEN GAYLE
Halloween is a time for parties, dressing up and having fun with a bit of harmless – but scary – make-believe.
But a group of college students are taking a stand against some costumes which, they say, can cause hurt and humiliation to people from minority ethnic groups.
Students Teaching Against Racism in Society, an Ohio University student group, have created a poster campaign to highlight the racial stereotyping all too common in Halloween party dress.
The campaign, headlined ‘We’re a culture, not a costume’, shows images of people of different ethnic groups holding up images partygoers whose costumes they say lampoon their cultures.
Above each image, the posters read: ‘This is not who I am, and this is not okay.’
They have provoked an online row over whether the costumes are actually racist, or whether they are just in good fun.
One blogger who wrote about the posters two days ago had to disable comments on her website after she got 3,000 views and comments from ‘rude, racist people.’
On the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind blog, Melissa Sipin wrote of the campaign: ‘These posters act as a public service announcement for colored [sic] communities.
‘It’s about respect, human dignity, and the acceptance of other cultures (these posters simply ask people to think before they choose their Halloween costume).’
She added: ‘What these costumes have in common is that they make caricatures out of cultures, and that is simply not okay.’
‘This is not who I am, and this is not okay’: The posters highlight the crass racial and cultural stereotypes that emerge in Halloween fancy dress each year
One poster shows a young Arab-American man holding up an image of a Halloween reveller wearing Arabic dress and a suicide bombers vest.
Another shows a Native American man holding a picture of two women with paint on their faces and feathers in their hair holding a sign reading, ‘Me wantum piece [sic]… not war.’
A third poster shows an Asian American woman holding up a picture of a woman dressed as a Japanese geisha girl, with silk kimono and heavy white foundation.
On the Huffington Post, where the story has also been reported, website comments were split over whether the costumes could be judged offensive.
Many could see nothing wrong with dressing according to racial stereotypes: A user going by the screen name Masterkcb1 wrote on the site: ‘People need to get a sense of humour, and quit taking everything so seriously.
‘If I can’t dress like a bandito then nobody can dress like a ghost because I don’t have a tan and I find it offensive.’