We're a culture not a costume

We're a culture not a costume
Ad campaign by students at Ohio University

Two years ago an "illegal alien" Halloween costume generated controversy.  It featured an orange prison jumpsuit and an illegal alien mask. It was on sale at Target.com and Toys "R" Us but they stopped selling it. I still found you can purchase it on buy.com.

A quick search of Amazon reveals the "Mexican Zarape" costume that comes with an oversized moustache, a serape and a straw hat. Women can wear a "Sexy Shooter" costume with a tequila holster. Or you can get a "Funny Food Taco" costume for your child.

Do you think these and other costumes like a geisha or a Muslim bomber are offensive? Is it offensive to wear black face for Halloween?

Yes, say a group of college students from Ohio University. They have organized a campaign called "We're a culture not a costume" to point out these types of offensive Halloween costumes.

The poster campaign created by the Students Teaching About Racism in Society organization is effective.

One poster shows a young Hispanic man with a picture of a Mexican donkey costume; another an Asian girl holding an image of a Geisha; and another a Muslim student showing a photo of a white man wearing traditional clothes with bombs strapped to his chest.

These ads put a human face on cultures that are often mocked.

Some of you may think this is political correctness gone too far. The ad campaign has fueled a debate and also some racist comments online.

I understand that people want to have fun on Halloween. But please don't do it by mocking another culture.


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  • Great post. I don't celebrate Halloween personally, but I would never find it funny to dress up as a muslim bomber, in black face or any other ethnically offensive outfit.

    It still happens often on college campuses, but there are actual parties where (white) fraternities mimick blacks. I think they call them ghetto parties or something like that. It is so racists and I still try to wonder why it appears to be okay. Quite sad and disappointing especially at the collegiate level.

  • I think there's a world of difference between the Zarape costume and the taco costume. I saw people dressed up as ketchup & mustard yesterday, I see hamburgers, and all manners of food.

    But I agree, the Zarape costume is along the lines of dressing up as "Indian" or "Sambo". But inanimate imitations don't bother me in the same way.

  • I think this is taking political correctness a bit too far. It's Halloween, a fun costumed theme holiday, lighten-up. I've seen people dressed as Hitler. It's in bad taste, but then again, it's Halloween, and you truly can't take any of it seriously. Seeing a guy dressed up as a used sanitary napkin taught me that.

  • Thanks for all your comments. While out on Halloween night, I saw two blonde women dressed up in sombreros. On was wearing the "Sexy Shooter" dress I mentioned in my blog and the other was wearing the taco costume. I also saw a guy dressed up like an "Indian" hopping around and making "woo woo woo" noises. I don't think he was Native American. It didn't find their costumes to be funny or cute, just offensive.

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