By Sexual Correspondent Andrea (AJ) Plaid
Longtime Racialicious readers know this time on the calendar has prompted the R to read someone (or several folks) about their racist costumes or some other Halloween-related foolishness. Well, this year, Ohio University’s Students Teaching about Racism in Society (STARS) put on posters what we’ve been putting into words for quite a while.
I think that, for the most part, the campaign deserves the accolades, coverage, and support it’s been getting around the web, from Angry Asian Man to the 17,575 (and counting!) responses on the STARS president’s Tumblr to The Root to Bitch to the former Racialicious owner Carmen Sognonvi .
Of course, we can argue, among other things, that phenotypes don’t equal culture and cultures aren’t static or even talk about the historical-religious appropriation of Halloween itself.
My only quibble with the campaign is that I may have chosen photos where the models conveyed different body language. Not that the models didn’t pose how they wanted, being a student-driven campaign. What I do think is quite a few photographers rarely get The Shot in one shot; in fact, several photographers submit several photos for clients/collaborative partners to choose from.
I would have chosen, say, the Latino looking down at the photo, the East Asian woman giving the “geisha” picture the side-eye. Or all of the models giving their respective photos the side-eye. Or all of them looking out at the viewer. Or all of them looking down. As is, the photo of the East Asian woman looking down may suggest non-confrontation (“meek Asian girl”)
juxtaposed with the men of color (the photo at the top of the post and this one)
and the Black woman
may inadvertently suggest stereotypes of anger and aggression (“angry Arab,” “Latino with a temper,” “aggressive Black woman”). Just a thought if and when STARS decides to tweak this incredible campaign.
But, again, that’s my only quibble. STARS did a wild-applause-and-rose-tossing job with this campaign.
Others, however, have taken this serious and timely message and parodied—if not downright attacked–it. (Color me unshocked by this, Racializens.) Now, some of the parodies made me chuckle, like this Avatar-based one
and the zombie one
The ones about white people, especially poor whites, produced mixed results mostly because the parodies don’t quite grasp that, yes, poor white people do have a mitigated privilege via their skin color and that white people of various class standings making fun of poor whites may be viewed as “inside joking,”
but white poverty is also thoroughly ridiculed and dismissed—and, therefore erased–in US society by that very same mitigated privilege.
Oh, and let’s not forget the sexism and the fatphobia in these parodies.
As we’ve witnessed in our posts about racism in costuming, people have rushed to defend their choice to dress up in racially offensive Halloween garb in some of the comment sections about the campaigns, with the usual mixture of the “I got my rights!”, “my best [insert race and/or ethnicity here] friend/partner/co-worker/neighbor didn’t find my costume offensive,” (bonus points if the person saying this is a person of color wears the stereotyping costume of a PoC culture), “y’all are being oversensitive/overemotional/hostile,” “you’re the racist for calling out my racism,” and other derailing techniques.
Some of the Derailing/Apologist/Other-Blaming hits and remixes?
From “Jerry Stein” at Autostraddle
OMG, get a life. This is pathetic. Would an Asian woman be OK to go as a Geisha on Halloween? If not why not? And if so are we now saying that only people of the exact origin or race can have fun dressed as a CHARACTER on Halloween? Stop being so sensitive. If America is to get passed all of this nonsense then it needs to get some perspective and start smiling again.
Watch any movie or TV show and you will see a racial stereotype. Are all stereotypes negative NO! Why is it that this campaign only sees that.
This country is dividing itself. Nobody wants to be American. Everyone is so narcissistic and self important it makes me sick to my stomach. Bring back people with humility and a sense of humor before we all end up selfish deluded idiots thinking the world owes them something.
Based on this all costumes which feature Cowboys, Irish Leprechauns, Michael Jackson, Lady GaGa, Bin Laden, OJ Simpson, Madonna, Jersey Shore cast members will all now be banned because they offend the Irish, African Americans, Italians and Muslims. Thats pretty much Halloween cancelled.
This country is becoming a laughing stock for the wrong reasons.
Mohamhead from GOOD
I am not white myself but I don’t see what’s wrong with people doing that kind on stuff on Halloween. I might even dress up as a white guy. Is that racist too? Or is it only racist if white people do it? Hypocrites.
didimydoe3, also at GOOD
I don’t mind stereotypical costumes of my race because I’m mature enough to know it’s a costume.
Sometimes it is offensive. Mine is. It’s the only reason I’m doing it. I’m going blackface.
Oh, I could go on and on and on with these kinds of comments–because these comments are out there ad nauseum–but you get the jist.
But see, here’s the thing, People Who Defend Racist Costumes: you all are proving STARS’—and Racialicious’—point…and quite well. You’re welcome.
As Bitch’s headline says, don’t mess up as you dress up, and have a Happy Halloween!