On college campuses and off, civil rights groups are trying to raise awareness of the insensitivity of both revelers and retailers who might choose Halloween costumes that range from a taco wearing a sombrero to “Pocahottie,” a sexually suggestive Native American woman.
Just as alarming, the costumes aren’t limited to the end of October. A growing trend of “racist ragers,” parties that students attend in costume as ethnic or racial stereotypes, has school officials — and other students — increasingly concerned.
Christina Gonzales, dean of students at the University of Colorado Boulder, sent a letter to students last Thursday encouraging them to “celebrate” diversity on Halloween by refraining from “inaccurate and hurtful portrayals of other peoples’ cultures in the CU community.”
Her letter is part of a growing movement led by Students Teaching About Racism in Society (STARS), a student group at Ohio University that aims to “facilitate discussion about diversity and all isms.”
STARS does this by hosting workshops and teach-ins on tolerance and respect. But its annual “We’re a Culture, Not a Costume” poster campaign is what has propelled it to Internet fame and inspired other universities, like CU, to follow suit.
The posters, which have gone viral every year since 2011, depict annoyed-looking 20-somethings next to images of costumes that stereotype their cultures. They’re accompanied by messages that challenge students to consider the consequences of wearing such costumes.
So does that mean I can’t wear my sexy Native American outfit tonight?!!!!