The kimono-wearing geisha, the sombrero-clad “Mexican,” the doo-rag donning gangsta. For years, costume makers have been churning out Halloween costumes that are recognizable to the masses, but the problem is that many of these getups play off of stereotypes that, while many view them as playful, seriously offend some cultures.
Colorlines reports that Students Teaching About Racism in Society (STARS) at Ohio University have decided to do something to change what they see as prevailing attitudes about inappropriate holiday attire by creating a public awareness campaign that takes aim at ethnic stereotyping.
The president of the group, Sarah Williams, who is African-American, decided to organize the campaign after she snapped a photo of a fellow student wearing blackface at a Halloween party. Sarah told Colorlines that the photo left her feeling “angry” and that the action was “unacceptable.”
The campaign is called “We’re a Culture. Not a Costume,” and this headline is used on posters that show members of various cultural groups (Hispanic, African-American, Native American, etc.) holding photos in which their culture’s stereotypes appear in costumed form. Underneath the headline is the message, “You wear the costume for one night. I wear the stigma for life.”
The campaign has gained national media attention and has also caused a bit of a social media frenzy, quickly becoming viral and even receiving the ultimate compliment: it’s own Internet meme. While we think the campaign can and should be taken seriously, we do think seeing dogs, vampires, and mummies decry their feelings of victimization is kinda funny.
Do you think these types of costumes really are offensive or are they just a bit of harmless fun? Let us know your thoughts below.