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A Culture, Not a Costume



Halloween is a time for silly costumes, and some use it as an excuse to drag out every racial and cultural stereotype they can think of for a silly costume. That's not cool. Students Teaching Against Racism (STARS) is an organization at Ohio University that put out a series of posters to "educate and create dialog" and to ask people to think before they select an insensitive Halloween costume. See the rest of the posters at Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Link -via I Am Bored

Damn straight. We zombies are tired of the tasteless and over simplified portrayals of our kind during Hall . . WAIT, I SMELL BRAAIIIIINNNS!

(But seriously, that's an actual costume? Ugh.)
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Give me a break! That's the stupidest poster I've ever seen. It's offensive to me that people cry about everything claiming it's racist. As an Ohio local I am embarrassed at this effort.
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So, are you guys saying that Mexicans should just shut up and take it when people make fun of their background? Should all minorities just shut up and take it?
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miss cellania, soon you will be a minority. Guess what, only the white north american is on the path of political correctness. If you're going to complain about this, then why don't you start with the cleveland indians baseball team. There's no New York Caucasians or Chicago Jews. It's out of control. If you go to latin america they call us gringos. The definition is generally seen as a white American, however, the true meaning is a white american who only works and thinks and lives for money and greed. Bottom line, who cares?
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All you naughty Vikings, fighting Irish, ragin' Cajuns and little Hell's Angels, I call on you to stand in solidarily with Pancho and just say no to your costumed depictions!
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So does this mean that German beer maids, Irish leprechauns, ancient Egyptians and ancient Romans are off limits too?
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You could also look at it this way - those who wear the wackiest costumes are often those who understand the best the difference between fantasy and reality. And have you ever seen Japanese television? People often make fun of the their own culture better than anyone else, that doesn't make it wrong. I won't deny that most of the costumes in those posters are tasteless, but the premise is a bit flawed. The real lesson is to not be a total ass, and unfortunately, that message never seems to get across. These posters are akin to asking a bully not to beat you up and take your lunch money.
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No one in my family or my wife's family would be offended by that costume. In fact most of them would think it was pretty funny.
That pouty little wimp does not represent everyone's opinion. Please stop being offended on behalf of others. Let us choose our own battles.
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As a minority, I appreciate the message they're trying to convey. However, there are too many things wrong with this.

1. They only have photos of white people mocking the other cultures. That's just a common sense fail.

2. Their message, to me, appears to be "stick to your own kind. Unless.." There are exceptions to be made. If the character is fictional, if you do your research, if you buy traditional outfits from a native, if you blah blah blah. As if the police will get you?

And 3. The paradox.
Pocahontas- culturally incorrect as a Disney princess so it can be easily offensive if not done correctly.
Done correctly with research, Pocahontas moved to England, married a white man, essentially lost her culture, and one of the only notable photos of her is her dresses as a white woman. So being correct with your costuming (and it is beautiful costume) you are basically dressing up as Native American woman pretending to be white.

I feel this movement is just for people to gather and shake their heads at the drunk idiots at parties and feel righteous over the ignorant.

It was a notable news website I was looking at the other day (I can't remember as I look at many) which suggested Ghadfi being a hot new costume this year. (NOTE: This was before his death). That would be a sickening sight. Along with all those who want to dress up like "Tot Mom" Casey Anthony, or Bin Laden.

I guess there really are no "safe" costumes anymore if you're looking not to offend anyone. I don't care if someone wants to dress up in a stereotypical manner of my culture. It's their life and we live in "the land of the free" so, what is there for me to do that would effectively end this? Nothing. And you know what? I'm okay with it.
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Isn't the whole point of Halloween to make fun of things? I thought it's way to get out social frustrations using humor. I mean we dress as murder victims and laught about it! Almost every costume is a stereotype.
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gee, i like how those are all races other than white. yet im sure those people participates in st. patricks day, mardi gras and Oktoberfest huh? please, this is just political correctness taking one more step. I don't bitch when people dress up like leprechauns, slutty German bar maids or run around showing their tits for beads. how about everyone just stop getting so offended over trivial crap. like there are no mexicans that ride donkeys while wearing ponchos?
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I'm astounded at the racism here. Like the campaign or not, to call IT and the person photo'd racist? That's just silly! Are we really blaming the victims here? I thought this campaign was clever and nice, a good way to start alerting people to some of the more unconscious ways in which white supremacy exerts itself. Kudos to STARS.
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Those people aren't 'victims'. Those are Halloween costumes, not political statements.

Let that sink in for a minute.

The girl dressed as Lil Wayne (in case you didn't get it) is not saying all blacks are gangsters. The guy dressed as a terrorist is not saying that all middle easterners are suicide bombers. And the geisha? It's a f-ing geisha...what more needs to be said.

These aren't political statements, it's just a freaking costume...for FUN...and sometimes LAUGHS...but not from squares who just want the next thing to whine about.

What's next? The only thing we can dress as is an M&M because that's the only thing that isn't going to offend everyone and make a generation of coddled babies butthurt?
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The only people who even give racists power are the people who get offended by this crap. If you stop seeing things as racist, then they will no longer be racist. People who are racists will stop saying these things if they know it doesn't bother you. I think it's important to laugh at stereotypes because they are ridiculous. Most people don't actually think that all Mexicans look like that. And the people who think all Muslims are terrorists are idiots, and why would you really care what those people think?
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man, there are a lot of racists on this thread. did you idiots even read the linked post? here's the crux: if your costume might be viewed as insensitive (which these clearly are), leave it at home! if someone dressed in black face, would you dismiss it? costumes like these are reminders of a shameful past in this country that is best left in the past. if you feel the need to dress as a stereotype, you're not just unimaginative, you're racist.

it's not hard to avoid dressing up in one of these despicable "costumes". i can count on 1 hand the number of offensive costumes i've seen in my life, so if you're here defending these morons, take more than 5 seconds to come up with something else. it's pretty easy!
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I'm Asian and I'm not really offended by the geisha one...? I know the message was well intended, but most of the costumes are ridiculous and over the top that we know it's for kicks and giggles.
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I'm English and not offended by bowler hats and the Ministry of silly walks, nor beefeaters or skinheads. I think a couple of these may be a little over-senstive but blacking-up isn't cool.
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Speedy Gonzales is LOVED among latin-Americans, but some stupid PC cry-baby decided it´s offensive for mexicans. HELLO?

This planet is becoming a very boring place.
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I can see it from both sides...on the one hand, yeah 5 year olds wearing silly costumes is not a political statement relax...on the other hand, how do 5 year olds learn how to be hateful? Maybe by belittling people by wearing silly costumes? I dunno but I figure I can always wear a kilt and make fun of my own heritage...
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First off, these are terrible costumes. Second, learn to take a fucking joke for one day out of the year. If it happens outside the confines of Halloween, then you have a problem. Who takes anything seriously on Halloween, anyways?
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"So, are you guys saying that Mexicans should just shut up and take it when people make fun of their background?"

Isn't that a Juan Valdez costume? Valdez is a iconic character and brand used by the Colombians to sell their coffee. As such I don't mind someone poking a little fun at it.

Ditto Cardozo on Speedy Gonzales. The whole point of those cartoons was to destroy the stupid, lazy Mexican stereotype. In every cartoon Speedy runs circles around the gringo physically and mentally. Yet somehow they're all racist now.
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I was really glad to see this post. The coolness of neatorama stupidly inflated my hopes for the readers' responses. Pretty sure I could fill an entire bingo card with all the derailing and belittling of the manifestations/realities of racism. I will never understand why white people's response to People of Color asking to be treated with dignity and respect is to vehemently defend their right to say and do whatever they want with claims of OMGcensorship.

When you step on someone's foot and they say "ouch", you get off their foot and apologize, not defend your right to step on people, tell them they're too sensitive, lay fault on them because they dare to have feet, and tell them that if they didn't complain about it, their toes wouldn't be broken.
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Miss Cellania,

Don't you find it a little hypocritical of yourself when you post jokes about dumb blondes and "Bubba" on your site? If you are offended by this, why aren't you as equally offended by those?
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Lulz "If we stop seeing things as racist they'll stop being racist" officially has my top vote as the stupidest thing i've seen on the internet today. I tip my hat to your idiocy.
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JoeD, I'm a blond from a long line of hillbillies, so that's what I know best. Whether someone considers themselves dumb or redneck is a matter of opinion (and behavior); a person's ethnic background is often a fact they have no control over. Or maybe I am a bit hypocritical. I really can't speak for others in what is offensive to them.

Like Dolly Parton said, "I'm not offended by all the dumb blonde jokes because I know I'm not dumb... and I also know that I'm not blonde."
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How incredibly narcissistic for him to assume that anyone would be interested in "being him" for Halloween.

Run away, women, run away!
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Racism only applies to people of northern European decent who live in the United States. Furthermore, it is only morally outrageous if the perpetrator has conservative leanings.
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So, many of you are ok with blackface costumes? What about the native American one with the stupid "Indian" that can't spell? I like these posters. Obviously people need to think more about ethnic stereotyping. Why can't people figure out that people who have been victims of oppression don't like being made fun of by the people who historically oppressed them?
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I would rather see the people who would wear these costumes because it makes it easier for me to see the types of people to avoid associating with.
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@HF so what you are saying is that it's perfectly OK to be bigotted and it's the people who are offended who are in the wrong?
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I thought halloween (or at least the fancy dress part thereof) was about dressing up in scary/spooky costumes. What is it with all these folk who think it's just about dressing up in any stupid costume?

Last year we had so many trick or treaters who showed up in shop bought star wars or fairy princess costumes or whatever. Guys put an effort into it and we'll give you candy. Don't put in an and you'll get the sourest sours I can find.
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all the people in these ads are holding pictures of white people dressed up in costume... only white people... so you can only take this initiative SO serious...

move along...
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Decades ago, people of color were beaten, imprisoned, and sometimes killed. Now the biggest gripes are about stupid Halloween costumes and sport team names.
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Here is the solution: Realize that your ethnicity is entirely arbitrary and beyond your influence. Then get revenge by dressing up as Pee Wee Herman or Donald Trump.
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Can't blame him for being mad. If he does that to animals, he must be pretty embarrassed that someone would make fun of it.
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@Jon A nobody said this is the worst that racism has to offer, but all racism and indeed bigotry of any kind, is bad. As for many things in life if you deal with the little stuff, the big stuff just goes away.

In many countries they have outlawed discrimination on the grounds of race, sex or religion, and also incitement to hatred on those grounds. This means that all bigots have left to them is either minor stuff (like dressing up in stupid costumes) or picking on other social groups. Hey it's OK to pick on the Irish because they're not a race! Err, no it isn't. Just because it's not illegal doesn't make it right or even OK. It's just as wrong on picking on people of another race.

However anybody who finds this sort of stereotyping amusing is probably of limitted intelligence. I can think of few better ways of testing. As such it would be all but impossible to reason with them. It always amuses me the way bigots get so upset by humour that pokes fun at bigots. The Simpsons is a good example of that sort of humour that travels well and yet so many bigots (aka right wingers) are offended by it.

Basically the bigots crede is that it's OK to make fun of anybody that's not like me, but it's not OK to make fun of me or people like me.
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@robynlicious I sort of agree with you, but the statement "I will never understand why white people's response to People of Color asking to be treated with dignity and respect is to vehemently defend their right to say and do whatever they want with claims of OMGcensorship." Is in and of itself racist.

The majority of white people are not racist, but people like you want to occupy the moral high ground by assuming that they are. There are bigots of every race, creed, colour, religion and sex and we need to deal with all of them. Not just the white ones. If you live in a predominantly white society then most of the racism you encounter will be practiced by caucasians against others. Move to a community where the majority population in not white and you will find racism heading off in another direction.

I live near a city where fifty years ago an asian population was begining to move in and there was a lot of racist feeling against them. Mostly of the kind that managed to accuse those people of being lazy good for nothings who were coming over here to live on benefits while somehow at the same time stealing all the jobs. Wind forward fifty years and some 10% of the population of that city is east european. Travel to one of the asian neighbourhoods and you will find plenty of asians willing to tell you that the easy europeans are lazy good for nothings who were coming over here to live on benefits while somehow at the same time stealing all the jobs. Plus ca change.

It doesn't stop being racism because its practitioners have dark skin and its targets generally white.

All bigotry is bad. Period.
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It's all arbitrary taxonomical classification. It started with Carlos Linneaus, father of modern Taxonomy. Linneaus' colour taxonomy is responsible for the racist attribution of color to ethnicity (e.g. Red, Yellow, Black, Brown, White, etc..)

If we were still using Linnean colour taxonomy we'd still be calling each other "Red Skins" and "Yellow Bellies". But no, we have replaced that outdated and racist taxonomy with something better, regional taxonomy. Now we are split by place of birth, but soon we can develop a new taxonomy based in genetic mutations. Hopefully I'll be part of the "Low-Aggression Variant" group.
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Realize this: Human beings want to belong to a group, but they also want to be special (of greater value than anyone else) and this provides the basis for these rigidly held (although abritrary) classifications. We are not content to see ourselves as identical in every respect with our neighbours. We want to look out our window at our neighbours and say "See that! That is what separates us, what makes me better." And so we invent ways of doing this.

However, our classifications serve a functional-analytic purpose, so it is a dual-purpose phenomena. One to improve our understanding through manipulation of discriminate symbols, and the other to improve our use of symbols for the purposes of manipluation and discrimination.
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@ Miss Cellania: "I'm a blond from a long line of hillbillies, so that's what I know best. Whether someone considers themselves dumb or redneck is a matter of opinion"

Dumb or redneck are subjective, but being blonde and having a hillbilly heritage is a cultural background and a racial characteristic, same as any of the above. That's why people comment that it's silly - we don't all take these associations as vindictive, even the supposed target.

True racism is very different from garden variety stupidity, and we'd do well as a culture to differentiate the two before going overboard.
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I say that because "High Aggression Variant" is synonymous with "Psychopathic" and "Anti-social". They will probably be the first, in the new taxonomy, to be the target of hate.
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I'm also going to step out and say that this is dumb. The responsibility for being offended is on the recipient. You choose whether or not you find something offensive in any degree of symbolism. Personally, I'm offended every time I see religious advertisements. Does it make it "OKAY" for me to go around telling them to all stop it? That's great that you understand that these aren't depictions of who you are. They're depictions of stereotypes pulled from factual cultural imagery. I see a geisha. I see a terrorist. I see an extra in a western film. Who cares? Cool, that's not you. But guess what! Culture has changed since these stereotypes were invented. And of course these people won't match the stereotypes. And because some people are having a hissy fit that means we have no access to the classic symbolism? Seriously? Stop ruining the planet by trying to control the actions of others when they have no direct effect on your liberties. If you really want to see us as "all equal" then just SHUT UP AND LET THESE PEOPLE DO WHAT THEY WANT. Political correctness has no purpose other than to try to blind ourselves to how the world functions.
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@Jolly -- Is there any irony in you stereotyping all "right wingers" as bigots?

I'm sick of political correctness. The charge of racism has been used so much that it's lost its power. Even if these *are* racist, and I certainly don't think they are, it's the smug self-important sense of superiority that annoys me. No, the Mexican caricature is not my culture. Neither is the guy holding the picture. I don't appreciate the assumption that he speaks for me because I happen to be from the same background.
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Every single person on the planet is racist, its what you do and say in the name of racism that is the problem.

Using race to vilify and call out a certain group of people to shame or humiliate them is a far far far cry from taking the huourous side and enjoying a widely held stereotype as a part of traditional eve of make believe and candy.

As others have said above .. fuck PC movements like this, they do nothing but make the problem worse.
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Oh, puh-lease!!!

I live in Munich, if I were to be offended everytime someone mocked my culture, I'd go running around crying and slobbering for two weeks on end every year when Oktoberfest comes around. Millions of visitors dress up in Lederhosen and Dirndl and most of them look terrible in their cheap fake leather or they think they're sexy when wearing their dress mini, which is culturally unthinkable.

I see that as what it is: It's just a coustume for partying, not a mockery of my heritage. I laugh about it, that's it. And I admire someone who got an authentic one.

If we ban the donkey-riding Mexican for Halloween, then we might as well ban witches, for the Wicca could feel offended. No more vampires, there are people allergic to sunlight, don't mock them! No more Frankenstein, the scientist might feel offended!

Come on!!
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Only American is so hung up about this. Japan, China, South East Asian countries, every countries that I have been, people will stereotype other cultures one way or another. Most people who wear those customs probably just want to have fun and has no racist intention whatsoever. What a bunch of PC killjoy.
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While I can see some stereotypical costumes as offensive, I don't think people dressing up as iconic figures can be considered racist. Is it racist if an Indian girl wants to dress up as Wonder Woman? Is it racist if a Korean girl wants to dress up as Storm? What about an English girl that wants to dress up as Tiger Lily? Should a person really be barred from dressing up as an iconic person simply because the colour of their skin doesn't match the character's/person's? Isn't that an act of racism?
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@MA, I think there's definitely a difference in dressing up as an iconic figure who happens to be of a different race than you, but going as a "insert race here" is a lot different. The dude in the poncho and hat isn't going as Juan Valdez, he is going as "Mexican person" and that's pretty fucked.
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I don't associate with non-whites any more because I'm not sure what I will do that might brand me as a racist and ruin my life. I mean, do I fist bump back or will that be offensive? Too many variables to keep up with and everyone gets so easily upset. I hope I don't have to hire any non-white applicants because I'm afraid something might happen where I'll get sued. Geez, this world is a scary place.
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Hmm, so should all white people be offended when someone dresses up as a redneck? Or as Col. Sanders?

Honestly. Why are these people so weak as individuals that they are personally offended by people dressing up as their version of rednecks? If they are offended, then they have implied that everyone of their "race" should be associated with those elements that DO exist. There ARE such things as inner city thugs. Donkeys ARE used in Mexico by peasants, who once looked and dressed like that. Geishas ARE real, as are terrorists. What could possibly be wrong with dressing up as any of them?

By the same logic, Eastern Europeans should get offended by Dracula costumes, as he is Eastern European. It just makes no sense. These kids need to grow beyond their "race". Until they do, they will never advance beyond the borders they have set for themselves.
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