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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Avoiding Stereotypical Costumes this Halloween

Don't let your friends drink and drive on Halloween, and don't let them dress in Blackface. The student organization, Students Teaching About Racism in Society (STARS) at Ohio University created a campaign that shows students of different ethnicities holding posters of an offending Halloween costume. The slogan for the campaign reads,"We're a Culture, Not Costume. This Is Not Who I Am, And This Is Not Okay."

My family had I lived in many different states, prior to settling at the foot of the flatirons in Boulder, Colorado. I felt the harshness of racism as an adolescent, having my locker vandalized and being called out of my name in middle and high schools. In the mid-90’s at my high school, there were only two openly gay students, both of whom I admired and supported for being out.

As a society, we are slowly progressing in valuing diversity. I’ve lived in the South now collectively for over 10 years. My most recent encounter of being uncomfortable came just months ago, when I greeted a woman with a handshake and she opted not to shake my hand. I smiled and acknowledged her being uncomfortable. Inside I was perturbed.

It's unfortunate but the truth is many people across the country will dress in stereotypical costumes this Halloween and think that's it's OK. As an educator, my heart aches because somewhere we've missed teaching students that dressing in Blackface is racist and unacceptable. The 19th century minstrel shows are over.

One of the ways to help end stereotypical Halloween costumes is by people stepping up to the plate and letting their friends know that dressing this way is offensive to other cultures and plain wrong. Choose not to go out with your friend for Halloween if they do decide to dress this way. Be a friend this Halloween who steps up and combats discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age, and sexual orientation.

I’d like to hope that the more diverse our society becomes, the more inclusive people will be. I think we should have a “Step Out of Your Comfort Zone Day” in America, where people become more open minded to other cultures, ethnicities, and sexual orientation. I grew up in a household that was a safe zone for all people. These are the same principles that I’m teaching my own sons.

1 comment:

  1. I completely agree; justifying one's racism and ignorance in order to play dress-up and pretend to act out in racist ways about another culture is beyond me. We can do better than this. I think we just need to be creative and use our imaginations; there are endless creative and appropriate costumes out there.