An Ohio university is funding a student-led campaign to denounce what they consider to be racially offensive Halloween costumes – ranging from Geisha girls to terrorists.
The campaign is sponsored by a group called Students Teaching Against Racism (STARS), and is funded by Ohio University.
“Some costumes can be offensive to some people where you are highlighting their culture in a negative way,” said Stephanie Sheeley, a spokesperson for the group and a student at the university.
STARS created a poster campaign showing what they consider to be offensive Halloween costumes. In one poster an Asian girl is holding a photograph of someone dressed like a Geisha. In another photograph, a Hispanic student is holding a photograph of someone dressed in a sombrero.
“We understand that Halloween is supposed to be fun but in doing so you don’t have to offend others,” Sheeley told Fox news. “There are plenty of costumes that don’t hurt other people’s feelings and don’t degrade other people.”
The posters read: “We’re a culture, not a custom. This is not who I am, and this is not okay.”
One of the more shocking posters features a man dressed in Middle Eastern attire with dynamite strapped around his waist. Sheeley said dressing up in Muslim garb for Halloween might be offensive to “certain” countries.
““That’s obviously offensive,” she said. “It’s offensive to a lot of people because that doesn’t highlight all the people in that country. That takes one specific angle.”
But she also cautioned people about dressing up in other ethnic outfits.
“Don’t dress up like a Guido,” she said. “That’s offensive to Italian Americans. Don’t dress up in black face. That’s offensive to African Americans.”
So what about dressing up like a rapper or someone from the Jersey Shore? Sheeley said that kind of costume would actually be appropriate.
“It’s different if you are saying I’m Snooki or dressing up as Obama,” she said. “It’s difficult when you cross the line between being someone specific and just being a representation of a culture. That’s a lot different than saying I’m a Guido.”
Ohio University is not the only institution of learning that’s trying to create a politically correct Halloween. Schools across the country have either cancelled or curtailed celebrations over issues ranging from candy corn to concerns that Americans are forcing their holiday traditions on new immigrants.
Consider the following:
— Halloween costumes have been banned from many schools in Ontario, CA. Instead, students have been encouraged to wear orange and black on Halloween.
Parent Stefanie Sellers told the Barrie Examiner that she received a letter from her daughter’s school explaining the costume ban.
“In an effort to respect the diverse value of our PVPS families, we will not be wearing Halloween costumes to school this year,” the letter read.
— In Portland, OR, the principal at Buckman Elementary School banned costumes at his school, calling instead for boys and girls to embrace a “spirit of equity.”
“For many reasons, the celebration of Halloween at school can lead to student exclusion,” Principal Brian Anderson wrote in a letter to parents. “There are social, financial and cultural differences among our families that we must respect.”
Anderson wrote that the “spirit of equity” has led most public schools in the city to “deemphasize the celebration of Halloween at school.”
— Halloween celebrations have also been banned in some schools across Michigan.
“Change is hard,” Carol Dawson told the Muskegon Chronicle. She’s the principal at Holton Elementary school – where candy corn and candied apples have been replaced with a fall festival focused on health and wellness.
Edgewood Elementary School in Fruitport, MI, decided to steer clear of both Halloween parties and costumes parades. The principal told the Chronicle she wanted to keep children safe and avoid hurt feelings.
“Emotionally, it is a difficult time for kids who don’t have costumes,” Amy Upham told the newspaper.
So instead of cookies and candy, the kids at Edgewood Elementary will get “fall-centered fun and educational activities.”
— In Springfield, NJ, elementary school principals banned costumes claiming it caused classroom disruptions. Superintendent Michael Davino told the Springfield Patch that dressing up is not something kids should be doing at school.
“I do believe it is something you should do with your friends, believe it is something you should do with your family, and it is something you should do as an activity that has really nothing to do with school or about school,” he said.