Let’s be honest.
We love dressing up…or down. And most of us love dressing up in our costumes for Halloween. Heck, we actually spend $310 million dollars/year on costumes…for our pets. Wow.
In total, Americans spend between $6.5 – $6.86 billion dollars on all things Halloween: costumes, candy, and decoration. Wowzers.
The average consumer is projected to spend $26.52 on costumes. The holiday will see Americans spend $1 billion on children’s costumes, up from $840 million last year, and $1.21 billion on adult costumes, up from $990 million last year. Additionally, pet owners will shell out $310 million on costumes for their four-legged friends.
And while I don’t personally go ga-ga over my costumes, I love seeing the creativity at costume parties. But several years ago, the laughing kinda stopped because at nearly every single party (even at church parties), I’d see a costume or two that were either borderline or straight up racist.
Perhaps, you’ve seen them, too. Perhaps, you thought they weren’t a big deal. Perhaps, you thought they were funny. Perhaps, like me, you were offended.
What I try to convey to people is that despite their “best intentions,” these costumes really are not funny. It’s like this: You might think it’s funny, but my slanted Asian eyes are beautiful – not to be mocked.
I recently began seeing these posters as part of a campaign started by students and advisors from Ohio University and I was immensely encouraged by the message and the manners in which in they were trying to convey the message:
“We’re a culture, not a costume.”
While it’s clear to me that it’s offensive and in some situations, racist, the topic is difficult for many to broach for several reasons because the responses fall in one of these categories:
- “Why do you have to be a party pooper?”
- “You’re taking the subject too seriously. Relax. It’s a costume party!”
- “I have ethnic friends and they think it’s funny. They told me that it’s cool and okay.”
- “You need to get some thicker skin.”
- “This is your issue…your problem.”
My point is that we never allow the conversation to get deeper because eventually, the attention or responsibility is deflected upon the ‘other’ person.
It’s your issue.
Or perhaps, the best way to diffuse these tense but awkward conversations are to mock it or altogether, change it.
This is why I found a recent CNN article all too familiar about the explosion of memes of the original poster:
Then came the realization that their original message was getting lost in the mockery, she said.
“These people that are putting out characters of vampires, dogs, robots, they don’t have anything better to do with their time?” she said. “It’s silly. We’re talking about actual race, actual people that are actually affected. I guarantee you robots and dogs are not affected by what we’re trying to say.”
The most startling was an image of a monkey holding a picture of the black student featured in the original poster, she said.
“That was just awful. The fact that people think that’s OK shows why this discussion is still important and relevant, unfortunately,” she said. [via CNN]
The conversations are important so, let’s have a conversation:
What do you think of this “We’re a culture, not a costume” campaign.”
And speaking of funny costumes, here’s my wife’s costume at our church’s Halloween party: