Yes, Halloween is finally here, and it is that time of the year where everyone dresses up. One may see a lot of pumpkins, vampires, doctors etc., but one may also see something a little more disturbing. This past weekend I have come across students dressed as other cultures, races, religious groups and much more. Some were even mocking native tongue, religious practices, and clothing preferences. This is not okay.
This topic was brought up last week when I received an email from Native American Student Association ( N.A.S.A) about a Michigan sorority portraying the Native American culture in a very negative manner. They considered themselves “sexy tribal Indian princesses.” As a group, we decided to send out an email letting them know how we did not support their annual costumes. They were very apologetic and understanding. They even offered to help us raise awareness about offensive stereotypes. Websites like wholesalehalloweencostumes.com are promoting this type of behavior with inappropriate costume designs.
Prior to receiving this email, I must admit that I was ignorant to the situation. Just last year, during Halloween, I took a picture with five people whom I did not know only due to the fact that they were dressed as Native Americans. I told them, “Hey I’m Native! let’s take a picture!” Now, when I look back, I am embarrassed by my actions.
So, I decided to do a little research. I came across a campaign to stop racism in society.
“We’re a culture, not a costume. This is not who I am, and this is not okay.”
It’s happening all around us, the problem didn’t start with one sorority. We have been trying to get rid of racism everyday, yet we have students dressing up and ‘supporting’ racism on our very own campus. It was very eye opening to go out on Saturday Night, look around, and see many offensive costumes. I even went up to those dressed as Native Americans and asked them what they were suppose to be. Surprisingly enough, I received many embarrassed responses when I informed them that I was Native.
What allows one culture to dress up and mock another culture as if they are more important? Does Halloween give us all a free pass to do so?