Photo: Stars Anti-Racist Poster
An Ohio University group called Students Teaching About Racism in Society (STARS) wants you to think about who you may be offending with your Halloween costume.
STARS posters feature youths from several different cultural backgrounds holding up photographs of people at Halloween parties wearing turbans, kimonos, blackface, etc., each with the caption: We are a Culture, not a Costume. This is not who I am, and this is not okay.
“We wanted to highlight these offensive costumes because we’ve all seen them. We just wanted to say, ‘Hey, this is not cool. This is offensive and this shouldn’t be taken lightly.’ It’s offending a culture and people should be aware,” STARS president Sarah Williams told ABC.
The initiative has gone viral, and garnered both praise and mockery; some circles think the group is making something out of nothing, and casting a veil of shame over the perfect last minute costume. Internet trolls have now come up with their own versions of the poster, turning it into a meme overnight.
Ezra Winton, a writer at artthreat.net made an interesting point about the possibly offensive costumes.
“Dressing up as a racial or ethnic stereotype is not the same as dressing up as a police officer or a nurse. This is about identity and oppression. When people must spend their lives subjugated because they do not belong to the dominant culture or ethnicity, they are in a daily battle to maintain their identity as they wish it to be formed, not as a hostile society has decided it should be or look like. As one scholar has put it – ‘We weren’t ‘colored women’ until we arrived in America, then we became such’.”