Halloween is finally here, and if you plan to dress as a “Mexican” tonight, you may want to reconsider it. That’s according to a group of Ohio University students, who started the “We’re a culture, not a costume” campaign last week to raise awareness of what they deem to be offensive costumes.
The students are members of the group S.T.A.R.S., and their treasurer Stephanie Sheeley spoke with Colorlines’ reporter Jorge Rivas about some of the criticisms of the campaign. Sheeley told Rivas that its offensive to wear a costume that’s meant to represent a marginalized group rather than dress up as an individual person who happens to be of another ethnicity:
Many of you had a lot to say about the campaign when we wrote about it last week. We also polled readers as to whether it’s racist to dress up in a costume that’s meant to represent an entire race (you can still cast your vote). Most people who responded didn’t have much problem with such costumes:
The “We’re a culture, not a costume” campaign has also spurred an Internet meme, in which people have created their own posters poking fun at the campaign. Sheeley tells Rivas that such spoofs aren’t “that big of a deal if you understand why we’re doing [the campaign] in the first place” and that they can be “funny” and “comical.”
But some spoofs, Sheeley says, can be very offensive, such as one showing a gorilla holding a picture of the African American girl in the original S.T.A.R.S.’ campaign.