So as Halloween rolls around I like many other people are excited about what sort of costumes I’ll be seeing this year. Last year’s Lady Gagas, Snookies, Michael Jacksons blew me out of the water and this year it only leads me to wonder who will be emerging out of their haunted houses but this year? Steve Jobs? Halloween is always an exciting time of the year for me and my friends and we always discuss costumes months in advance so we can prepare for that one day where we can parade in our costumes around Hollywood Blvd. But yesterday while I was scrolling through costumes, I came across something that really changed my views on the celebration of Halloween.
This campaign, done by a student group at Ohio University called Students Teaching Against Racism (STAR) calls through graphic presentation a questioning of what exactly goes on during Halloween . Their mission is “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” So as Halloween comes around its not exactly hard to find people of all ages dressed as slutty nurses, ‘white trash’ , and gangsters. After all- Halloween is a time of mockery and foolishness. Its that one day out of the year where sluts can wear their undergarments and not be mocked for it and youtube jokes take physical form. But as we all enjoy these costumes and point in laughter I think we tend to overlook what these costumes truly mean and what they fuel as an ideology of stereotypes. That being said, this poster campaign isn’t about being overly sensitive to costume choices, it’s about perpetuating prejudices and negative stereotypes through these choices. “It isn’t racist to dress up as another culture, per se. But if you do it with a mocking intent, then you’re taking it too far. All we’re asking people is to stop perpetuating those prejudices and to realize that you’re crossing a line when you strap fake bombs to your chest to portray a Middle Eastern man or if you paint your face black.”
In my opinion I do believe that people can take these posters the wrong way because I know for a fact the majority of the people who dress in these sorts of costumes don’t intend it it that way. But at the same time, a comic youtube video made from the student from UCLA didn’t seem at the time too harmless but in reality it blew up to the point where she had to drop out of school from all the death threats from Asians from all over the world. So when you start wondering where people start forming stereotypes that cause hate crimes that happen when you see someone unrighteously frisked at airport security, maybe we should look to the small details of our life that have desensitized us to think that they are merely costumes and funny moments.