Opinions: Cultures, not costumes

Halloween is once again upon us – a time of massive amounts of candy, endless re-runs of horror movies and a parade of bad costumes.

What makes a bad costume? There are costumes that are just generally aesthetically unpleasing, either because they are thrown together last minute or are just plain tacky.

And then there costumes that are bad on a whole other level – the racist costumes.

Mixed in with the monsters and axe murderers flooding the streets on Halloween night will be a parade of “Hey Amigos,” Taliban members, “sexy” Japanese geishas and “Indian” princesses.

Considering it’s 2015, one would think we have moved past mocking other cultures. One quick search through some online costume stores, such as costumecraze.com and costumeexpress.com, says otherwise.

These sites feature categories labeled “Japanese and Chinese costumes” and use the term “Oriental” to describe an Asian princess costume. By taking traditional outfits from cultures, such as Native American or Japanese outfits, and altering them to either show more skin or seem flashy, costume companies are disrespecting and degrading these cultures. They are profiting off these cultures while simultaneously misrepresenting them.

These costumes do not show the real faces behind these cultures. They only portray the stereotypes. The Middle Eastern man as a terrorist, the Native American man as a savage warrior – by endorsing these stereotypes, companies and the people who wear these costumes contribute to unnecessary fears such as Islamophobia and xenophobia in general.

Another significant problem with these racist costumes is the messages they are sending to children. By mocking these cultures, we are teaching children not to take other people from those cultures seriously. Furthermore, we are teaching children from those cultures that we do not take them seriously. We are contributing to the hate and distrust between cultures in the next generation.

I call on FSU students to stay away from these costumes this Halloween and all the ones to come. Set an example for future generations. As college students, we are the future. If we don’t take the first step toward change, who will?

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