October 24, 2013

University bans offensive Halloween costumes

'Offensive' Halloween costumes banned by US university

By Lucy KinderUniversity students in America have been told not to wear "offensive" Halloween costumes including cowboys, Indians and anything involving a sombrero.

Students at the University of Colorado Boulder have also been told to avoid "white trash" costumes and anything that portrays a particular culture as "over-sexualised"--which the university says includes dressing up as a geisha or a "squaw" (indigenous woman).

They are also asked not to host parties with offensive themes including those with “ghetto” or "hillbilly" themes or those associated with "crime or sex work."

In the letter sent by a university official students are asked to consider the impact that their costumes could have.

According to a student news website Christina Gonzales, the dean of students, wrote: "Making the choice to dress up as someone from another culture, either with the intention of being humorous or without the intention of being disrespectful, can lead to inaccurate and hurtful portrayals of other people's cultures.

College takes small stand against terrible Halloween costumes, annoys Fox News

The University of Colorado Boulder issued a memo asking students to think twice before wearing offensive costumes

By Katie McDonough
There is no mention in the letter of consequences for noncompliance, just the recommendation that people try harder not to be racist, sexist or otherwise clueless this Halloween.

But here is what Fox News and the National Review think the letter said: FUN IS BANNED FOREVER AT COLLEGE. RIP FUN.

Because, presumably, college students can only have fun while they are being terrible?

“Finding a Halloween costume that doesn’t terrify politically-correct college busybodies could be a challenge this year,” whines Fox News in a piece that calls the letter a warning against the “dangers of donning a costume—almost any costume.” (Emphasis mine. Mental addition of dun, dun, dun, also mine.)

And, sure, some costumes are racist but “So bloody what?” says the National Review’s Charles C. W. Cooke, prompting a stream of comments calling the university officials “fascists” for making a non-binding request of their students.
Others don't get it

Chief Wansum Tail Seeks Pocahottie: Yes, It's Halloween AgainSorry ladies, but we're calling Halloween 2013 a win for the boys.

Because Halloween in Indian country is always a horror show of snide stereotypes peddled to mainstream America as harmless costumes. Usually--like, almost always--the stereotype is the playful "Native American women are sluts." Oh, so fun. But this year we're struck by the men in the Dreamgirl "Restless Wranglers" collection of Halloween costumes: Chief Wansum Tail and Chief Big Wood.

Tribal costumes trending across nation, but not in Santa Fe

By Phaedra HaywoodOn Monday morning, 97.3 Kiss FM radio DJs Dana Cortez and The-Kandee-Man filled their drive-time show with banter about a list of the Top 10 Halloween costume ideas across the United States. Kandee gave readers a hint about the No. 1 costume idea for women—according to a list they were reading on air—saying that you might find a lot of them every day in New Mexico, but not in other places say, Texas.

The top costume idea—according to the list published on American Live Wire—Pocahontas/Native American.

“This is one of the easiest costumes to customize and accessorize to your liking,” according to the list. “Whether you want to go all out and dress like an authentic Native American, or you just want a reason to wear your moccasins …”
And:“Those costumes, overall, are probably the worst representation of Native American people,” said Douglas Miles, an Apache artist and social critic from San Carlos, Ariz., whose show What Tribe?—which examines stereotypes of Native people in media—has been traveling the Southwest this year. “As far as representing who Native people are, they are good for nothing.”

Miles said Americans are becoming more savvy. “But now,” he added, “there exists a myth that we are in a post racial society, which is really not true. We’ve made inroads, but a lot of these images are demeaning and harmful over time. And a bunch of people still don’t know they are harmful.”

Miles said he has felt a shift in Native consciousness about racial stereotypes in the past few years, but he said it wasn’t surprised that no one called the radio show to complain about the costume list because there just aren’t that many Native people to complain.
"Irresponsible and negligent"

A Native writer tells how she feels about these costumes:

The Difference Between Being a Slut & a Racist: Pochahottie Hottentot

By Ruth HopkinsAs a Native American, I can’t tell you what an absolute pain it is to traverse through aisles of costumes this time of year, especially with children in tow. Mommy doesn’t like explaining why Party City is selling a “Cheeky Cherokee” teen costume that promises to send its wearers “heading for the woods,” or why Spirit Halloween is displaying a “Naughty Navajo” mini dress that will have women “sending out smoke signals.”

Like any decent parent, I try to teach my daughter to carry herself with pride and dignity. These racist costumes, that specifically target her purely because of her race, send her the message that Native American women are viewed as sex objects. It makes her sad and angry. She knows those costumes are not who we as Native women are, and that we should not be depicted that way. Statistically, a shocking one in three Native American women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime. Encouraging the public to view Native American women as disposable sex toys is more than a grave insult, it’s irresponsible and negligent.
Comment:  For more on Halloween costumes, see Can Indian Costumes Be Educational? and Native Regrets "Naughty Native" Costume.

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