October 31, 2013

Halloween Costumes Not an Excuse to Be Racist, Minority Students Say

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Eschewing sultry cat costumes and Breaking Bad outfits, some Cornellians celebrating Halloween this year have donned sombreros, kimonos or feather headdresses instead — outraging minority students who insist that cultural stereotypes are not acceptable costumes.

“Halloween is not an excuse to be culturally appropriative or racist,” Brenda Martinez ’15 said. “Culture is how people construct and produce their everyday lives, and appropriating others’ culture makes a mockery of their existence.”

Martinez is one of a number of students grappling with the emergence of sexually, racially or ethnically offensive Halloween costumes, the likes of which have inspired a “We’re a culture, not a costume” campaign at several university campuses nationwide. While some students believe they are merely appreciating Mexican culture by wearing ponchos or Japanese culture by wearing kimonos, others say their peers promote harmful stereotypes through poor choices of costumes.

Courtesy of Michelle Zeng